Media coverage—both mainstream and social—of Bisphenol A (BPA) was the focus of a recent case study conducted by social media consultancy Commetric. The study reveals a lot about consumers’ perception of BPA as well as just how influential consumer-generated media can be.
The conversation about BPA on social media is overwhelmingly negative, according to the study results. This, despite the involvement of legacy brands, universities and agencies, like Coca Cola, the University of Illinois, the American Chemistry Council, and the Food and Drug Administration.
Anxiety about chemicals in packaging
Personal care packaging materials often include the compound to safeguard against corrosion of aerosols, for instance, as well as in plastic bottles. BPA is of course no longer used in cosmetics product formulations. (As an ingredient, it was banned in 2006.)
The study looked at social media and blog mentions of the “risk of BPA in plastic bottles” and “general health-related concerns about BPA” among other issues. Notably, voices of authority from industry and well-known companies had little influence over the prevailing messaging and consumer attitudes expressed via social media.
The FDA’s assertion that “BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods” has evolved into something of a mantra for BPA proponents but this does little to shield the personal care industry from dissenting consumer perception.
These sorts of concerns and messaging impact innovation: “Consumers perception of ‘so-called’ nasty chemicals is very important, and to be honest, this ties in very closely to media, consumer groups and various pressure groups,” said John Madden, global head of ingredients research at Euromonitor, when looking at trends and challenges last year.
Social media for brands and suppliers
The Commetric study led The Holmes Report to conclude this week that “companies involved anywhere in the supply chain will need to think very carefully about their position and evaluate regularly how they are involved in the social media discussion”.
Yet, being active on social media can be a good idea for brands and suppliers. “For the cosmetics industry, social media is a tool that should not be ignored,” consultant Richard Stacy told Cosmetics Design earlier this year.
Since consumers generally use social platforms to talk about brands rather than engage with brands, the best place for valuable social media conversations to take place in the industry is on the B2B side, he explained.