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24
Oct 11

LOHAS Consumers... Beyond Healthy Food & Beverage Choices

As LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) evolves from a hot trend to a fundamental focus and integral strategy for many businesses, LOHAS consumers are now a driving force. The $200 billion+ LOHAS industry is on track to jump to $420 billion in just three years, according to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), and the food and beverage market is one key sector where the LOHAS impact is unmistakable and consequential.

NMI is a leading provider of consumer insight into the LOHAS market and since 2002 has conducted an annual research study which provides a wealth of data regarding consumers and their LOHAS-related concerns. In order to understand this vibrant marketplace, NMI has developed a consumer segmentation model which identifies five consumer segments:

  • LOHAS
  • NATURALITES
  • DRIFTERS
  • CONVENTIONALS
  • UNCONCERNED

A total of 18% of U.S. general population adults (43 million) are classified as LOHAS consumers. LOHAS consumers have strong attitudes regarding personal and planetary health, which are widely reflected in their behavior. They are heavy users of healthy and "green" products and exude a strong influence over others. Hence, LOHAS is a critical target for companies marketing healthy, environmentally-friendly, or socially-responsible products as their buy-in is fundamental to not only early adoption of new products but also in extending reach to other consumer segments.

LOHAS' Healthy Choices

LOHAS consumers show a strong commitment to healthy eating. More than 75% agree that "Eating healthy is a vital part of my life", compared to only 61% of the General Population. Similarly, over 90% of LOHAS consumers believe that healthy food is important in maintaining a balanced lifestyle versus just 67% of the General Population.

To that end, LOHAS consumers are heavier users of "healthy" categories significantly more than the General Population (and all other NMI LOHAS segments). Whether it be a more mainstream category (yogurt) or one with less of a wide appeal (soy products), LOHAS consumers are clearly a captive market for all things healthy.

Not All Seriousness

While it is clear that LOHAS consumers show a strong dedication to their health and the foods they eat, they are not above the occasional lapse. LOHAS consumers' past three month usage of sweets and snack foods (including soda, ice cream, chips, cookies and candy) is on par with the General Population. Indeed, over three-quarters of LOHAS consumers say they believe that "eating healthy is all about balance and trade-offs". This underscores the opportunities for tasty, even decadent, healthier versions of snack foods to satisfy indulgent cravings among these healthy LOHAS eaters.

The Broader Picture

As marketers look at strategies for capturing the attention of this important group they should also remember that LOHAS consumers' focus on health and wellness doesn't just lie in personal considerations, but include planetary concerns too. Ninety-eight percent of LOHAS consumers say that environmentally-friendly packaging materials are important in their purchase decisions of foods and beverages and 94% report that products from farms practicing sustainable agriculture are important. With more healthy products flooding the market each year, consumers can afford to be picky and opt for those that meet a wide range of their needs. In attracting the LOHAS market, food and beverage marketers must remember to give broad consideration to not only health but environmental and indulgent benefits as well.

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