What good can possibly come out of longer lines at the doctor’s office, higher health insurance premiums and higher gas prices? Ask Hybrid, the Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods… Companies who market “natural”, “health” and “sustainability” are benefiting from the escalating mess in both healthcare and energy costs.
The “natural products expo” kicks off this week, the countdown to Earth Day, Week, Month is well on its way, the first mass-market electric car just launched in the US and Subway with “EAT FRESH” slogan has now become the number one largest restaurant chain worldwide. That said, I thought it would be apropos to discuss the enormous opportunity in the natural marketplace and its burgeoning demographic.
Wondering if you fit in? Let me ask you this: Do you visit a vitamin store more frequently than your pharmacy, do you get in line at Whole Foods which by the way is longer than the one at the DMV and do you consider your chiropractor or acupuncturist as your general health doctor? If you checked yes to one or all of the above, you are likely to be a well-educated consumer who is interested in healthy, sustainable living and green or ecological products and services. Therefore, you are a prime target for what marketers have now dubbed as the LOHAS demographic (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability).
U.S. LOHAS spending in the general market sectors for 2010 is as follows:
- Personal Health: $145 billion (includes natural/organic food, personal care, supplements, holistic medicine, natural homeopathic OTC’s etc.)
- Green Building: $130 billion (includes certified homes, Energy Star appliances, etc.)
- Alternative Transportation: $28 billion (includes hybrids, diesel vehicles, electric vehicles, car sharing, etc.)
- Eco-tourism: $51 billion (includes travel spent on excursions in nature)
- Natural Lifestyles: $11 billion (includes home furnishings, apparel, etc.)
- Alternative Energy: $1.2 billion (renewable power)
All the above categories combined, the LOHAS demographic is one who spends upwards of $350 billion on goods and services that are healthy, natural/organic, environmentally-friendly and/or socially responsible. You know you’re a LOHAS target when: you see buzz words like “naturally” and “green”, you’re being made aware the importance of taking personal responsibility and the tone is often less glossy and polished. The choice of words and images has an unfinished, slightly scrappy and “organic” feel, it’s somewhat crude or handmade in feel, but in an appealing, upscale way. For example, look at Mrs. Meyers and compare it to Clorox. Mrs. Meyers chose basic apothecary-style packaging over bold colors, heavy packaging and loud fonts like that of Clorox.
Why such a basic approach to such a sophisticated customer? Because LOHAS are apparently too smart to get suckered into obnoxious campaigns that shove brand names down their throat. LOHAS want a non-abrasive, authentic feel and they’re willing to pay a little extra for it. For example, “Whole Foods” is commonly referred to as Whole Paycheck. Even the marketing is subtle and more based on word-of-mouth and viral campaigns rather than a media blitz and full-page ad in a magazine.
SO while it’s an exciting marketplace to be in right now don’t act too excited and keep your cool. Just remember LOHAS will turn their back if they feel they’re being “green washed”, so if you want to get to them just do it naturally… and if you need help, this PR firm, 5W Public Relations does a lot of work in the space…