Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Are You Into LOHAS? Are You LOHASIAN?

This is a new one to me, and I thought I was pretty plugged-in to silly marketing stuff. Here is an article from BeliefNet, to be followed by a list of what's groovy with the LOHAS crowd.
It's a Lohasian moment. The term for these 21st-century New Agers derives from an acronym created by marketers on the West Coast—LOHAS, as in Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The movie "The Celestine Prophecy" is opening, based on the 1993 book that may be the most popular alternative-spirituality book of the last few decades. Next comes the film version of Dan Millman's book "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," about a lost young gymnast who is guided through a mystical transformation by a wise mentor. And Al Gore's movie on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," is bound to be popular with the ecologically minded Lohasians.

LOHAS consumers (or Lohasians, as they're called at Beliefnet), represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to a report released by the Natural Marketing Institute at a LOHAS conference last month in Santa Monica, Calif. The study said Lohasians are "dedicated to personal and planetary health." Seventy-three percent bought recycled paper goods, and 71 percent bought natural or organic "personal care" products. They pay more to get foods without pesticides and want their cars fuel-efficient.

Among the products and services offered at the conference this year were detoxifying pine oil, organic body lotion, ecofriendly spas, and recycled-cashmere sweaters. A decade ago, one attendee said, the conference vendor room offered only "broccoli and tomatoes." Lohasians shop just as widely for spiritual practices. From Buddhism: meditation and admiration of "nothingness." From Hinduism: yoga, gurus, color and chanting. From paganism: an emphasis on honoring nature. From Asian cultures: feng shui and acupuncture. Lohasians devour heaping doses of Western psychotherapy, plus the ideas of the recovery movement ("one day at a time"). They identify as "spiritual, not religious," and many believe in "synchronicity" or "meaningful coincidences" that might be guided by a spirit world.

Does this sound like someone you know? If you have a yoga mat and "singing bowls," if you chant or do polarity therapy or energy healing, if you consume goji berries or biodynamic organic wines, you just might be a Lohasian.
So, are you LOHASIAN? Leave it to markerters to create false categories so as to pigeonhole people and reduce them to types. Many of the things on the list are admirable choices (environmentalism, recycling, organic foods, spiritual practices, and so on.

So here are some things LOHASIANS purchase or support:


ACCESSORIES
A chunk of
amethyst to clear negative energy.
Zafu
Yoga mat
Exercise ball
Essential oils
Non-toxic cleaning supplies
Natural cosmetics and bodycare
Neti pot
Mini trampoline
Crystals
Skin brush
Juicer

PET CAUSES
Solar-power--not just for houses anymore.
Green building
Recycling
Hybrids
Peace
Violence on TV
The rainforest
Solar energy
Biodiesel
Sweatshop-free labor
Organics—cotton, flowers, food
GMOs

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Floating massage at Harbin Hot Springs
Yoga
Meditation
Chant
Acupuncture
Tai Chi
Chi Kung
Feng Shui
Ayurveda
Affirmations
Watsu
Thai Massage
Reiki
Polarity therapy/Energy healing
Astrology
Homeopathy
Stress reduction

SPIRITUAL MOTTOS
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: a fundamental Lohasian mantra.
"You create your own reality."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"Breathe."
"My religion is kindness." (-the Dalai Lama)
"God is everywhere."
"We're all one."
"Reduce, reuse, recycle."
Read the rest of the list here, including gurus, celebrities, films, book, and foods.

It pains me to say this, but I am part of their target group. I have a zafu, an exercise ball, and I meditate; I get acupuncture sometimes; I recycle; I like peace, the rain forests, solar energy, biodiesel, and organics; I breathe, I read Lama Surya Das and Ken Wilber, and on and on.

Is this a good thing? Is it better than there are now enough of us that marketers are trying to target us as consumers? Will this result in more options for organic foods and clothing, more renewable energy sources, more corporate support of "LOHAS" causes, or even more vacation resorts deigned for people who aren't interested in tanning, drinking, and other pointless activities?

Here is an article on the LOHAS conference, held in Santa Monica, CA. We're supposed to be a market worth $230 billion a year. Here is a link to a site that identifies LOHAS as opposed to three other marketing segments tracked by the natural foods industry.

What do you folks think?


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