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The Sustainability Sector's Key Opinion Leader List

Looking at the past six months, we see sustainability falling from grace a bit as single use everything takes over in our germ-worried world. But the sustainability sector overall is going strong. And it is thanks, in large part, to key opinion leader work. Let’s see what they’ve been up to and why brands should care!

Exploring all things eco-friendly we will tackle:

  • Reliance on sustainability taking center stage
  • A key opinion leader or two as guiding lights in our post pandemic world
  • Consumers, KOL’s and social media – oh my! How they intermingle and why brands need to pay attention

And our road to sustainability is paved with supporting statistics:

  • Sustainability market is growing and expected to reach 150 billion by 2021
  • 92% of consumers trust earned media (KOL) over paid advertising
  • 2/3 of consumers would pay 35% more for eco-friendly brands

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Sustainability Shouldering Lots of the World’s Weight

The sustainability market in the U.S. is expected to reach $150 billion by 2021. And consumers making even more eco-friendly choices in the coming years will be a common theme in consumer buying habits. Brands are listening. 86 percent of S&P 500 largest traded companies currently publish a sustainability report.

Competitive market intelligence shows the vast conversation around sustainability. Here, we have the top 10 categories highlighted. From biotech, to packaging and products and the need for it, each cluster is interactive, offering us a world of information to help guide brands in their strategic decision making.

top-ten-trends-in-sustainability

Knowing when a segment is being talked about is just as vital as the subject itself, which is why we look to our timeline view, helping us locate growing and receding trends.

We see Sustainability Reports gained momentum from May through August, joining it is Sustainability Need. And Earth Friendly Products saw increased interest in October 2019, but waned in the last few months, while Measuring Sustainability is picking up. People are more concerned with eco-products and renewable sources for the long haul.

timeline-top-ten-sustainability-trends

And driving the sustainability conversation are key opinion leaders (KOL), carrying the torch through this whole pandemic, hard at work.

Key Opinion Leader Work Keeps Efforts Moving Forward

A key opinion leader is a leading voice in any category. Their name is known to everyone in the industry, and they’re often quoted in articles.

These KOLs have built strong reputations and have the power of persuasion. A smile in a brand’s direction can bring amazing awareness, just as a frown can produce damage. And since 92% of consumers trust earned media over paid advertising, KOLs are the ‘it’ person you want to have.

And sustainability is being heard through their voices.

Our key opinion leader analysis reveals our top 5 KOLs. And Greta Thunberg is right at the top, followed by other important voices to pay attention to.

top-five-KOL-sustainability-leaders

Everyone knows Greta Thunberg. Student, environmental activist and author of the school strike for climate, she is responsible for 7.6 million youths of today pushing for climate change.

Among other things, she was included in the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2019) along with two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020).

And our key opinion leader analysis shows that she is number one in mentions, relevance, and resonance.

key-opinion-leader-highlights

And just as our timeline indicated, the conversation of renewables is growing, with a few leading KOLs focused on them.

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Renewables Conversation Resonates with Consumers

Dr Faith Birol, ranked second, is responsible for helping the International Energy Agency (IEA) to increase its share of global energy demand from 38% to almost 75%. She has also worked to broaden the IEA security decree to include natural gas, electricity and oil. Representative articles and information related to Birol are visible and explorable, as seen below:

Birol-kol-highlights

And then there are two Australian politicians who are preserving the future, Matthew John Kean who serves as the New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment, and Hon Angus Taylor, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction.

Together they rank 3rd and 5th in overall key opinion leader position. Using the keyword ‘Australia’ to search within our analysis, a focus on sustainable practices appears woven throughout. We see eco-friendly toys, sustainability trends and market drivers around sustainability:

Australia-KOL-sustainability-stories

Another echo-friendly politician is Raj K Singh. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India,  he’s mentioned multiple times in the context of India’s progression towards a greener economy:

Singh-KOL-articles

Our traction chart shows positive sentiment when conversation is measured on both mention count (news media) and social engagement (consumer shares). And this not only applies to our top five KOLs, but others in the sustainability conversation as well.

social-traction-of-key-opinion-leaders-in-sustainability

Quid Social Brings Consumer Key Opinion Leader Love to Life

Social media is the platform for talking about companies and sustainability. And the latter is a focal point for today’s spenders. 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is essential that a brand is eco-friendly, and prefer those product and service providers over others.

Using Quid Social, some of the same worries our market research above demonstrated such as conversations around plastics and climate change, are prevalent. Here the biggest concern lies in Debt Sustainability and Plastic Waste.

social-trends-in-sustainability

In these colorful segments, we see top tweets and posts. In the Debt category, the housing crisis brought on by the pandemic is focal to the conversation. And in Plastic Waste, the gist is around supporting businesses that are ecologically minded:

debt-and-plastic-waste-as-part-of-sustainability-conversation

Research shows over 70% of consumers would pay 35% more for eco-friendly companies and younger generations are increasingly demanding higher ethical standards from brands surrounding environmental concerns. And these younger customers are listening to KOLs.

Segmenting KOLs to Capturing Younger Consumers

Using our social analysis, we can pinpoint who is being mentioned primarily within various segments. Right away, notable names are apparent such as climate hero and key opinion leader, Greta Thunberg:

primary-mentions-of-people-in-sustainability-conversation

By clicking on the green area of Thunberg’s bar, posts about climate control and social justice are visible. And we can investigate the post’s author and get a complete bio. This is essential as brands identify accessible news media and influencers that may be willing to collaborate and generate super valuable brand awareness around important topic areas:

Greta-articles

The author’s bio leads us directly to the tweet itself, where we can view followers and engagements – all great for exploring real-time KOL resonance and relevance.

retweet-about-Greta-on-climate-change

And that’s the beauty of Key Opinion Leader understanding: exploring targeted resonance and relevance on an overarching, yet focused level. Brands need multiple ways to attack and filter online noise and KOLs have the pulse of their categories like no other.

Companies that want to keep their customers in this new decade should be listening to both KOLs and consumers in real-time. And creating campaigns based on what they learn. We can help you find both. Reach out for a demo to see KOL identification in action!

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