Analysis

Green Marketing - Why the Philippines is the best place to start

Jun 2014

Summary

There are probably around a million Google searches (30% in the US) per month relating to climate change with the most commonly typed phrase being "global warming" (500,000 searches/month).  This compares favorably with the phrase "car insurance" which registers 800,000 monthly searches.  Worldwide, accounting for density of Web users, the island nations most threatened by climate change score the most highly with Fiji, the Philippines and Mauritius top.  Sadly, interest in the subject overall around the English language Web world, as measured by Google search, is declining and is now 80% down from the 2007 peak.

 

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A lot of groups are interested in how the citizens of the world perceive environmental issues.  Corporations pitching "green" products want to know exactly how to promote their products/services and at what price point.  Environmental NGOs are keen to enlist support from large numbers of people and politicians want to make sure they attract their votes.   This information has proved difficult to pinpoint.  While a recent Gallop Poll  indicated that climate change is low on the list of priorities for US citizens, a Pew Research report from 2013 indicated a high level of concern with the issue, with the concern slightly higher in Asia and South America.

One means of determining how the world is thinking is to analyse Google searches.  This has been used, for example, by governments and cities to predict where flu outbreaks may occur by studying patterns of certain search phrases.   For environmental terms interest around the world appears to be robust as the sample shows, all data April 2014.

 

Environmental search phrase

Number of Monthly Global Google Searches

Other Comparable search phrases

Number of Monthly Global Google Searches

global warming

450,000

car insurance

800,000

climate change

210,000

house prices

90,000

water pollution

135,000

child labor

40,000

air pollution

135,000

terrorism

70,000

recycling

200,000

al qaeda

200,000

 

Clearly other languages, phrases and search engines would need to be analysed as well as the geographic spread, to gain useful marketing information.  Taking the specific issue of climate change, its clear the preferred term in English is in fact "global warming".  Looking closer at the 450,000 monthly searches, 30% are in the US and 12% in the United Kingdom, which might be expected given their developed world status and use of English language.  However, some other high scorers for the use of the search term "global warming" are surprising - India represents 16% and the Philippines 6%, although India has the 3rd largest population of internet users in the world at 151 million, most of them English speakers

The case of the Philippines is more interesting however.  It ranks number 14 in the world in terms of Internet users, well below the UK and is considered a developing nation.  Like India, however it citizens have suffered greatly recently in the wake of natural disasters which the media commonly associates with global warming, such as the devastating Typhoon Yolanda which hit the Philippines in November 2013.

Google Trends  allows a more general comparison of search trends around the world.  Its results are normalised in terms of relative population of internet users and the top seven ranking for the term "global warming" is revealing: Fiji, Philippines, India, South Africa, Mauritius, Maldives, Trinidad and Tobago.  Neither the US nor the UK make the top ten and both register less than 25% of the search volume compared to some of the threatened island nations in the list.  As a country impacted by a range of environmental woes, the Philippines scores highly on other search phrases.  The correlation between environmental issue (as a search phrase) and the top-volume country appears to show a strong correlation between the severity of the issue affecting citizens there, as would be expected.

 

Search phrase

Countries with Highest

Google Search Volume, May 2014

global warming

Fiji, Philippines, India

deforestation

Ethiopia, Jamaica, Cambodia

water pollution

India, South Africa, Philippines

air pollution

Philippines, India

recycling

UK, Ireland, United States

nuclear waste

Australia, United States, Canada

hazardous waste

United States, Philippines, Canada

child labor

Lebanon, United States, Philippines

contaminated water

South Africa, United States, Philippines

While interesting, Google data only goes so far - it provides no indication of motivation or any subsequent action.  Further, green marketers and campaigners have their work cut out for them.  Use of the term "global warming" (and "climate change") peaked in 2007 and has been declining since.  Globally it is now only 20% of the 2007 search volume.....

 

- analysis from ekobai.com, for more info contact dtanner@ekobai.com

 

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