Friday, August 31, 2007

How Lip Gloss and Colon Cleanse Can Save The World

--home + food + family--

Today I came across the following stats on the breakdown of the LOHAS market, on the www.lohas.com site.

Sustainable Economy: $76.5 Billion - green building, renewable energy, hybrid cars: $76.5 Billion

Healthy Lifestyles: $27.5 Billion - natural and organic food, supplements, personal care:

Alternative Healthcare: $30.7 Billion - alternative therapy, holistic disease prevention:

Personal Development: $10.6 products for mind, body, and spirit; yoga and fitness:

Ecological Lifestyles: $81.2 Billion - home and office products, greener appliances, eco-tourism:

I started wondering how much crossover actually exists within these categories and which categories this actually does not even include. For example, I practiced attachment parenting. The reality is that most attachment parents also tend to do many things more naturally from their healthcare to their eating. I wondered about that $10.6 billion dollar market that practices yoga and fitness, aren’t they also those vitamin poppers in that $27.5 billion dollar healthy lifestyle market? What I want to know is not how much we spend, but how many of us are there. I mean is this a whole lot of folks buying many different things, or a small market that can’t get enough of the same stuff ?

Today my husband said that until recently he didn’t even really consider me, or us for that matter, as being particularly “LOHAS.” Even though we eat entirely organic, have alternative health practitioners for many of our healthcare needs, practice yoga, and have been following an attahment parenting approach with our kids - he still couldn't see it. Which led me to wonder about how many people are actually identifying with the bigger demographic of which the marketers identify them. Are people recognizing the power of their preferences and how they equal the power of their dollar? I mean are all those folks buying organic colon cleanse at your local health food establishment realizing that they are the helping heal the world, along with their colon-simply by being part of the LOHAS market?

On the same token, I wonder if only buying organic colon cleanse would qualify you for entry to the LOHASIAN inner circle? This whole issue made me very worried. As a practitioner of a wellness based lifestyle, I give a big damn about the wellness of my world – for both heartfelt and also selfish reasons – I want my food, my air, and my community to be healthy, so my children can be healthy alongside their folks. But as this is a full out quest for dominance of the psychic monopoly of the people of this nation, don’t we need to get our numbers up to become the fat majority and not the quirky, crunchy minority? And don't these labels that at a "lite" to the end of your label sort of diffuse your value in the category? Its almost sounding religious, like being a reform Jew - vs- Conservative - vs - Orthodox -vs- Modern Orthodox. Are we going to be forced to go to different health food stores or use different organic fertilizer based on our affiliation? And does a title like "lite" really inspire anyone? I don't like my beer lite, and I certainly don't want to be called lite.

I propose a good place to begin is to stop labeling some folks LOHAS and LOHAS LITE. I think we need to stop being so purist and orthodox and about who makes the cut and who doesn’t in the conscious living space. I say if the only thing you buy is organic colon cleanse, you should get a free membership to a frequent shopper program at the local organic farm that gives you special discount to all things fiber rich. If you practice yoga, you should get a special discount to buy those greener appliances from your local Sears center (because you probably have more sweaty yoga pants to wash). This would all be a good start; getting existent markets involved in multiple categories with more incentive, and greater ease of use.

Second we need to start recruiting. I want to see a “happy meal” version at local organic stores, so 5 year olds in Wisconsin are inspired to eat their soy nuggets. I want to see gorgeous women flirting into my television screen pouting while professing how her organic lip balm “lasts longer” as she lives her life fantastic (and coincidentally leaves no deposits of chemicals on their skin). I want to see more ads for Yoga and less for Trim Max, more ads of happy families relaxing at home in their yards and less of smiling middle aged men touting Viagra or Zoloft.

We need to stop being so purist about who qualifies as LOHAS or not, we need to get our numbers up through saavy marketing that is also truthful and direct (which shouldn’t be hard, as all our products are actually good for you!). And we need to start thinking more consistently about the bigger picture – creating a better world for our kids, and yes in some cases this can be accomplished, at least in part, one organic colon cleanse at a time.

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