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:

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

Solar-power--not just for houses anymore.
Green building
Violence on TV
The rainforest
Solar energy
Sweatshop-free labor
Organics—cotton, flowers, food

Floating massage at Harbin Hot Springs
Tai Chi
Chi Kung
Feng Shui
Thai Massage
Polarity therapy/Energy healing
Stress reduction

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: a fundamental Lohasian mantra.
"You create your own reality."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"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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Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think I might be part of that group, too-- although I wonder how much of that do you have to correspond with to qualify?
After all, I haven't seen any of the movies on the list, and I only have a couple of the accessories-- a yoga mat and some essential oils; on the other hand, I agree with almost all of the pet causes, and dig a fair number of the gurus (Weil, Yee, Wilber, Surya Das). On the other hand, I've only read one of the "bibles"-- SES by Wilber. On the other hand-- wait a minute, I think I have way too many hands here, unless I've suddenly become an avatar of a Hindu deity...

Anonymous said...

I suspect this is again a matter of "what does it feel like on the inside." In other words, this seeming mob of LOHASIANs are very differently motivated, I suspect. For many, perhaps most, LOHASISM is a manifestion of consumerism from the perspective of spiritual materialism. Sure it's got some good qualities (new! improved! 10% more!) but it's often just a specified plan for spending mad, crazy money while keeping your "I'm spiritual" street cred. Flip through "Yoga Journal" to see what "Playboy/Catalogue of Must-Have Objects" looks like for the late-green meme.

Anonymous said...

(That was me)

Kai in NYC

Anonymous said...

one posative aspect is that politics follow money. So perhaps a more peaceful spirit can come to those who represent us when they feel like we "matter".


william harryman said...

An important point in this is that I think it is a "celebrity" led movement for those in the marketing niche who are shallow materialists. Unfortunately, those are the people who are likely to have the most money and power.

So, I think Kai and Erica are both right on this one. I'm pretty cynical, especially as I used to be in marketing. But I agree that politics follows money, and if this becomes a serious power group in that sense, whether it is spiritual materialism or not, it might be a good thing.

Let's hope there enough people who want to be like Leonardo DeCaprio and the other socially & environmentally conscious stars that they can lead a movement. I don't care how it gets done at this point, only that it does. There is too little time left to worry about methods too much (short of "wrong action").


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