Once limited to the margins of marketing strategy, sustainability has become a primary concern for innovative and successful brands in 2022. More companies are framing their brand in terms of sustainability as consumers have become increasingly aware of the impact of consumer behavior on the environment, especially on climate change.
Climate change is an unignorable feature of modern life, and brands are reorienting to meet the concerns of consumers who understand that consumption has a significant environmental impact. We have seen this impact both the development and marketing of products. And as brands strive to create more sustainable products and market them effectively, consumer research has an important role to play. Specifically, companies are turning to social listening tools to analyze the online conversation around their brands’ relationship to sustainability concerns.
Social Listening Tools Track Sustainability Concerns
Social listening tools provide brands with a deeper level of analysis of consumer behavior. These tools utilize AI to analyze large amounts of data from posts on social media and other online platforms, with the goal of understanding how a brand’s target audience feels about brand-relevant issues. Using a process known as sentiment analysis, market research products such as NetBase Quid AI discern the emotional content of posts and distill this information into intuitive visualizations, including word clouds, numerical ratings, and maps that track sentiment across geographic regions.
For example, a fashion brand could use sentiment analysis to discover the language that is most often used in positive posts about their product. While terms such as “comfort” and “affordable” are unsurprisingly associated with positive posts, language such as “sustainable” and “eco friendly” are increasingly driving the positive conversation of fashion online.
A recent report projects revenues for the resale clothing industry to double from $36 billion in 2021 to $77 billion in 2025, driven by millennial consumers who value both affordability and sustainability. The brands that can anticipate these sorts of shifts in consumer behavior understand the social media conversation around sustainability in their industry, and sentiment analysis is designed to provide this understanding.
Consumer Behavior Shifts Across Industries
Of course, fashion is not the only industry experiencing shifts in consumer behavior due to sustainability concerns. A recent Facebook report found significant shifts in consumer behavior in the following industries:
E-Commerce: According to the report, Facebook posts about sustainability by e-commerce companies received 7.7 times more interactions than posts that did not mention sustainability.
Electric Vehicles: The market for electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, and social media trends reflect that fact. From 2019 to 2020, membership in Facebook’s EV groups increased by 99%.
Travel: Travelers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of travel and increasingly expect brands to take steps toward reducing their carbon footprint. 43% of travelers indicated that “environmentally friendly practices to offset carbon footprint” are an important factor when choosing a travel brand. This trend is even more pronounced among millennials, with 63% that environmentally friendly practices are an important factor.
Consumer behavior is shifting due to sustainability concerns. This change is ongoing and is identifiable at a broad level. However, effective social listening tools can help brands move beyond this broad level of analysis of consumer behavior and anticipate the subtleties of how consumers’ attitudes towards sustainability will affect their choice of brands.
While it is clear that consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, increasingly base their choice of brand on sustainability concerns, sentiment analysis enables brands to better understand how to speak to those concerns with the products and campaigns they develop.