March 13, 2009

What is LOHAS?

The other day, I finally had a big phone call with an agent (thanks to a friend, who connected us). If the agent liked me, and my videos (most of which are down, right now, thanks to Brightcove) could help connect me with a production company and ultimately Nat’l Geo, Planet Green, etc. where I could host a ‘green’ talk show that could reach beyond the choir and actually effect some positive change.

Over the course of the conversation, I kept struggling to describe what it is I focus on—often, I said “green“, because it’s gone mainstream enough to be readily understandable…but I kept mentioning yoga, and non-new agey spirituality, and adventure…well what do they all have to do with one another, one might ask?

Well, let’s keep it simple. Even green consumers don’t just think about green. They think about jobs, and love, and travel, and fun, and…etc. So while green might be a significant component of what elephant journal and I focus on, it’s not the whole point. Living a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet, is.

LOHAS, Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, is a useful term invented by the good folks at Gaiam to describe the once-emerging, now emerged, 300 billion dollar market of mostly women, Whole Foods-type soccer moms who care not only about green, which is limited as a demographic discriptor, but about wellness, politics, education, the arts, yoga, spirituality, travel, food, fashion, family etc. LOHAS is…

an estimated $209 billion U.S. marketplace for goods and services focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. The consumers attracted to this market represent a sizable group in this country. Approximately 19% percent of the adults in the U.S., or 41 million people, are currently considered LOHAS Consumers. This is based on surveys of the U.S. adult population estimated at 215 million.

Research shows that one in four adult Americans is part of this group—nearly 41 million people. These consumers are the future of your business and also the future of progressive social, environmental and economic change in this country. But their power as a consumer market remains virtually untapped.

Let’s get a little more specific. Excerpt:

The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) estimates that the size of the green marketplace (defined here as products that are organic, natural or have an environmentally friendly benefit) is expected to reach $420 billion by 2010…

LOHAS Consumer Model
NMI has interviewed U.S. consumers for their attitudes and behaviors toward sustainability and environmental concerns every year since 2002. From this knowledge, the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) segmentation model has been developed that classifies five kinds of consumers when it comes to green purchasing.

The five LOHAS segments as defined by NMI include:
LOHAS (17 percent): Active environmental stewards dedicated to personal and planetary health. These are the heaviest purchasers of green/socially responsible products and the early adapters who influence others heavily.

Naturalites (17 percent): Motivated primarily by personal health considerations. Tend to purchase more LOHAS consumable products vs. durable items.

Drifters (24 percent): While their intentions may be good, drifters follow trends when it’s easy and affordable. They are currently quite engaged in green purchasing behaviors.

Conventionals (26 percent): Pragmatists who embrace LOHAS behavior when they believe they can make a difference, but are primarily focused on being very careful with their resources and doing the ‘right’ thing because it will save them money.

Unconcerned (16 percent): Focused on getting by, these consumers are either unaware or unconcerned about the environment and societal issues, mainly because they don’t have the time or the means….for the rest.

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