June 23, 2011

The Greenest Product You can Buy is the One You Don’t Buy. ~ Jolee McBreen

The Latest LOHAS Consumer Trends

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I walked into the main ballroom at the St. Julien and scanned the dimly lit room for a seat while Steve French, dressed in a large paper bag, and Gwynne Rogers, covered in plastic bags, began speaking on stage. I knew right then this wasn’t going to be just any presentation.

Not knowing much about LOHAS until two weeks ago I was excited to learn more about who the LOHAS consumer is – and who they’re growing to be. French and Rogers took us through various statistics, facts and opinions with humor as well as knowedge.

The first topic on deck was the green movement. French gave the first point stating that green is as strong as ever and the recession has been a good thing in regards the green market.

He gave a number of great points including, that sustainability itself is not sustainable. Businesses must look at why consumers are buying in the first place. Even though he acknowledged it was “an oxymoronic statement,” French insisted we were shopping our way to sustainability.

The greenest product you can buy is the one you don’t buy.

On the opposing side, Rogers stated it was naïve to think that the recession hasn’t had an effect on the green marketplace. Showing that consumption of organic food and natural cleaning products, for example, have fallen at an average of 10%.

Most consumers are taking into account the price of the products and not acknowledging their carbon footprint. 70% of consumers base their purchase decisions on price.

It was great to discuss both positive and negative views, especially when it comes to the green movement. So much information and opinions can be extremely one-sided. And to get the info in costume made it that much better.

Some interesting facts about the LOHAS consumer:

  • – Different segments: naturalites, drifters, conventionals, and unconcerned – but we didn’t talk much about the unconcerned since, as French said, “we don’t like them.”
  • – Generally the first ones that try new eco-friendly products
  • – High interest and active in social media and gorilla marketing
  • – Used to predict upcoming trends
  • – Always looking for the “deeper green” ­– greener versions of existing products

French and Rogers also ran through the positive and negatives of operations for your business.

Is it better to have a green product or to run your operations in a green way?

On one side, the view was that the product itself doesn’t have enough impact and therefor how you make the product should be ethical and green. On the opposing side, the product should be green because that’s what consumers are paying for.

Rogers took both approaches – go big or go home, stating that if you’re going to make the effort to create a green product for consumers, you might as well go all the way in your production as well.

In the realm of how to market to LOHAS consumers, “Keep it simple, stupid.”

There has been an information overload when it comes to the green movement, but some still don’t even know what sustainability means – 15% haven’t even heard of it. Yes, you read that correctly.

The most important things to take away from French and Roger’s presentation:

  • – It doesn’t have to be paper or plastic, we have to integrate new products, sources, etc., without alienating others – and people
  • – Needs to practical and sustainable
  • – Work towards producing green products and operations
  • – Think beyond your current geography

Overall, find a balance.


Jolee McBreen is a student at the Art Institute and whips up delicious coffee concoctions at a coffee shop in Denver. When she’s not avoiding homework or steaming milk she can be caught with her family, friends, snuggling her two adorable dogs, or dancing… pretty much anywhere.

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