Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Sex Appeal Problem, Where LOHAS Gets It Wrong

I keep reading how this "LOHAS" is missing an element of sex appeal and is hungry for being labeled as cool. I find this entirely ludicrous. Mass culture knows that fast food is bad food, and too much TV makes you dumb, and advertisers are there to seduce you, and that bad deeds to the environment will bring natural disaster even to your own entitled shores. The masses understand that buying that big obnoxious SUV's hurts the environment, and that there are many hungry people in this world. Continuing to eat garbage, buy gas guzzlers, and plug kids into mobile devices to keep them unplugged from life are not products of being cool or sexy - they are products of acculturation and perceived necessity.

Eating McDonalds was never sexy or cool, it was cheap and easy and fast. SUV's are not sexy, they are useful. Dumb video games are not sexy, they are dumb fun, and they are cheap sitters for overwhelmed parents. Instead of focusing on sex appeal or coolness, LOHAS industries need to focus on appealing to basic needs - of usefulness, fun, ease, and pleasure.

I think being conscious is already cool - I think people are starting to feel increasing unsexy sitting in their hummers, and feel very cool buying their fair trade coffee. The celebrity bandwagon has created a culture of eco-fabulosity (with sites such as www.ecorazzi to tout do-gooder celebs)- Angelina Jolie is not only helping orphans by adopting them, she had single handedly made foreign adoption cool, and along with it, every parent who has a child from Cambodia, Africa, Guatemala and the like.

I am all for savvy marketing - but we need to be clear that we can't compete with companies that serve people lives by making them more comfortable and engaged, by trying to sell sex appeal - we need to win the war, by being either cheaper, better or faster than the companies we oppose. If you want be sexy, and sell organic cotton short skirts, all natural lip stick, or hybrid sports cars than go ahead, otherwise it makes no sense. Sex is good - but wellness will be won in the minds of the people, and in the context of the practicality of their everyday life, and not in their bedrooms.

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