The Globalization of LOHAS
The Globalization of LOHAS
With LOHAS spreading across the globe over recent years, LOHAS Journal thought it timely to reflect on what is driving the phenomenon globally, some of the key differences in interpretation across the world, and what binds LOHAS and LOHASians together—wherever they are.
Businesses the world over are leveraging LOHAS as a way to understand the consumption preferences of a growing number of people who care deeply about personal, community and planetary health and well-being, and are willing to spend accordingly.
While this theme acts as a backbone for LOHAS globally, significant differences exist in the interpretation of LOHAS from one geography to another. Not surprisingly, these differences tend to be largely driven by local cultural, environmental and social nuances.
For example, according to Peter Salmon from Moxie Design Group, LOHASians in New Zealand express their LOHAS values through outdoor experiences, seeking a connection with the landscape and concern about social issues. This differs from U.S.-based LOHAS consumers, who typically have a stronger focus on personal well-being. In Australia, the situation is different again, with environmental issues of drought and climate change hitting many Australians hard in their own backyard. Severe water restrictions are forcing Aussies to change how they think about their much-loved gardens and lawns.
CERTIFICATION KEY TO MARKET ACCEPTANCE
A key theme emerging from European and Australian studies is consumers’ desire for certification marks or “trust” marks from credible certification bodies, providing independent verification that the product lives up to its LOHAS claims. Supporting this claim are the findings of a recent Porter Novelli report, which revealed that Europeans were 32 percent more likely than American consumers to buy products with such marks, and Mobium Group’s Living LOHAS report, which found similar conclusions among the Australian population.
LOHAS IN ASIA
Despite many similarities, key differences have emerged in the use of LOHAS between Western countries and the countries of East Asia—including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, where LOHAS is a booming consumer term. The emergence of LOHAS-branded foods and beverages, fashion labels and even LOHAS department stores heralds a new use of the LOHAS term as it crosses from business-speak into the consumer vocabulary.
While most Western consumers would draw a blank if asked for a definition of LOHAS, approximately 70 percent of Japanese adults at least recognize the term while up to 40 percent can articulate its meaning, according to Toshi Ide of the Japan-based LOHAS Business Alliance.
But how is LOHAS really interpreted in Asia? In China, LOHAS has been roughly translated to mean “good life” and has even been picked up by Chinese state radio. And English-language website Chinadaily.com.cn has published several articles referring to “escaping city life” and enjoying LOHAS experiences on the weekends in the countryside surrounding Beijing.
In Singapore, the city state’s Tourism Board markets the country to its Asian visitors as the LOHAS city—focusing on its spa resorts, authentic Nyonya-style cooking and its water recycling efforts (a necessity in such a small island nation, as the key to its LOHAS claims).
The emergence of LOHAS as a consumer brand has brought with it a range of organizations seeking to capitalize on the term, with varying levels of commitment to the values of core LOHAS consumers offered through a wide a range of products and services.
Small and medium-size enterprises comprise one sector where serious efforts have been made to address the needs and desires of LOHAS consumers on platforms of personal and planetary health and wellness. In many cases, these businesses have been the keys to LOHAS innovation.
One example of this sort of innovation is U.S.-based Terracycle.net, a company achieving mainstream distribution and significant success turning waste streams into value through a range of innovative products and services, including a novel approach to garden fertilizer. With major distribution agreements across North America and licensing interest from across the globe, Terracycle has demonstrated that LOHAS innovation can deliver clear business value.
Another example is Australia-based professional garment cleaners, Daisy (www.daisy.net.au). Daisy has managed to eliminate the harmful chemical, perchloroethylene (tetrachloroethylene) from its dry cleaning process, using a water-based alternative to deliver an odorless dry cleaning solution free from harmful toxins. Such is the popularity of the Daisy service, excess demand currently means a wait of three days to have your suit cleaned! But based on the volume of customers prepared to wait, the LOHAS approach to dry cleaning has again demonstrated a commercial payoff.
Similarly, this year saw the launch in France of Velib (www.velib.paris.fr), a Paris-based commercial bicycle sharing operation that provides bicycles for commuters for a nominal fee. With over 10,000 bikes in circulation across 750 self-service docking stations throughout the city, this model is providing inspiration for cities the world over.
It seems that everywhere you look, there are examples of innovations, often by small and medium enterprises that are working toward more sustainable and healthier outcomes for people and the planet.
One of the difficulties faced by LOHAS consumers and the businesses that supply their needs is seeking out and finding each other—and connecting.
This key theme is driving the emergence of media platforms that respond to LOHAS consumers’ desire for greater connectivity—to other LOHASians and the organizations that manufacture and retail products and services that meet their values criteria.
Examples of recent activity in this space include Gaiam’s acquisition of Lime.com and zaadz.com, two strongly LOHAS-oriented information and social networking sites. Businesses, including U.S.-based Sustainlane, New Zealand-based Celsias, and a range of other sites across Europe, are springing up across the globe to fill this gap for information, referrals and advice. Discovery Channel recently purchased website Treehugger.com as the online property for its soon-to-be-launched Planet Green program.
Across the globe, mainstream consumer and investor interest in opportunities related to renewable energy, organic food, complementary medicine, low-impact transportation and other LOHAS products and services clearly demonstrates that LOHAS businesses have moved out of the fringes and are now attracting significant investor capital and expertise. Companies and investors that embrace the opportunity that LOHAS presents have the opportunity to take a leading position in the industries that will define the 21st century.
Key Facts: LOHAS in Australia
• Nearly 4 million adult Australians (26 percent of adult population) are LOHAS aligned.
• Individuals with a LOHAS outlook are drawn from all parts of society; their values and world view are not strongly tied to income, geography or gender.
• Australian consumers currently spend $12 billion on goods and services in the LOHAS market segments, with an overall growth rate of 20 percent expected to continue. The market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2010.
• While 8 percent of the population are LOHAS “Leaders” who are highly committed and active participants in fully integrated healthier, more sustainable lives, the LOHAS “Learners” are the largest of the four segments, identified at 46 percent and standing as a largely untapped opportunity.
• Learners would like to do the “right thing” but are not sure where to start. Solving for their key barriers, which include price and availability, are paramount to unlocking this market.
Source: Mobium Group, www.mobium.com.au, Living LOHAS Report, 2007.
Key Facts: LOHAS, New Zealand
• 32 percent of population Solution Seekers (NZ Equivalent of LOHAS)
• 57 percent female
• Greatest concentration (29 percent) are in the 45-54 year age bracket
• Slight skew toward rural rather than metropolitan locations
• Income profile of NZ LOHAS is growing over time
Source: Peter Salmon, Moxie Design Group,www.moxie.co.nz
2. Lime – online portal to information, help and advice on LOHAS lifestyle
3. Zaadz and Riverwired – online LOHAS-oriented social networking sites
4. treehugger.com, Celsias.com – innovative online information sources for LOHAS-related themes and online collaboration
5. lohasguide.de (Germany), Sustainlane.com – LOHAS-related product and service listings and market information
6. Mobium Group – Australian research and strategy business focusing on sustainability and well-being; conducted the first research into Australian LOHAS consumers
7. Macro Wholefoods (Australia) – organic and natural foods retail store chain
8. Eco Age (eco-age.com) – a new store in London claiming to provide “a store, showroom, consultancy and destination that will offer inspiration, ideas and specific domestic solutions for all those who want to lead a greener and more energy efficient life”
9. Terracycle – Innovative company that re-uses waste streams and turns them into value-added products
10. Velib – Paris-based bicycle-share company
11. Flexicar.com.au – Australian car-share business winning support from local governments for their eco-friendly and cost-effective car-sharing program