LOHAS: a new breed of eco-minded shoppers

G Magazine

Meet the new eco-minded consumers whose shopping dollars are making a difference

Yoga pose in amongst nature

Credit: iStockphoto

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Today, more Australians than ever are using their purchasing power to make a genuine statement about their concern for the environment.

They're a dedicated group, fond of everything from organic potatoes to hybrid cars, and marketers have given them their very own name to wear as a badge of honour. It reads 'Lohasian', and you could be one of them.

Derived from the acronym 'LOHAS', which stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, 'Lohasian' describes a person "whose purchases are driven by values and attitudes about their own health, the health and wellbeing of their community, and, importantly, the broader health and sustainability of the natural environment," explains LOHAS researcher Andrew Baker, from consumer research company Mobium Group in Melbourne.

Does this description sound familiar? Mobium Group reports that 29 per cent of adult Australians (that's over four million of us) are currently "LOHAS-aligned", possessing "moderate to strong" feelings about personal and planetary health, and buying products and services that show it.

But just a key 10 per cent of adult Australians are true Lohasian "Leaders" - those who make healthy and sustainable choices across the board, every day, from the way they invest their money, to the type of milk they drink, to the type of clothes they wear.

Like everyone, Lohasian Leaders are interested in how well a product or service works and how useful it actually is, but they're looking for something above and beyond this.

They want to be sure that the companies they buy from are following socially and environmentally just philosophies, much like themselves.

They also want to know that the company's production practices are environmentally sound, and will always consider the impacts of everything from manufacture to disposal before laying their money down.

As market researcher David Chalke, from Melbourne-based Quantum market research, puts it: "These guys...they believe, they eat, they own and they wear a whole ideological belief system. They're wholly committed to a green philosophy."

And they're at the leading edge of a powerful market.

In 2007, Lohasian Australians spent over $12 billion on products and services related to lifestyles of health and sustainability alone.

In 2008 it was in excess of $15 billion, and in 2010 the market will reach a predicted $22 billion.

And on a global scale...well, with over 100 million people sharing Lohasian values worldwide, who knows where a market currently standing at over $500 billion will be in a few years time?

Everyone's welcome

But apart from having strong values, carefully considering their product choices and contributing a pretty penny to the economy, who exactly is the typical Lohasian?

That's the beauty of the group, says Baker - your typical member just can't be pinned down.

"It doesn't matter if you're a brickie in Brisbane, a truckie in Tamworth or a mum in Melbourne," says Baker.

"Age, education, income, where you live...none of this defines whether or not you can have concerns about health, the environment or sustainability, which means basically anyone can be a LOHAS consumer."

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