Saturday, June 05, 2010


A friend asked if I planned to make it to the LOHAS conference in Boulder this month. LOHAS is short hand for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a key market segment for consumer brands. I checked the website, and learned that this is an opportunity to "successfully approach the LOHAS consumers with your products and services. Network with like-minded executives from all LOHAS market sectors."

But this email got me thinking about two other things going on in Colorado this summer. The International Development Design Summit (aka IDDS) and the Unreasonable Institute. These have a very different focus than LOHAS. You see, these are aimed at successfully developing ventures that serve the poor. They are largely social ventures, aimed at maximizing impact on a challenge faced by the those in what I call the LOPAS segment. Lifestyles of Poverty and Sickness.

Most companies are looking at the LOHAS market as early adopters for greener brands, organic foods, renewable energy. The purchasing power of this segment is estimated at close to $300 billion. They are seen as drivers of a more sustainable economy.

Few companies are looking at the LOPAS market. This is too bad. China is a leading example of how a market can explode as hundreds of millions of people begin to move out of poverty. The media has recently started to talk about "reverse innovation" where products developed for India or Africa begin to show up in the US and Europe. So just how big a market is created for every 100 million people who move from making $1 per day to $4?

It's just math. The LOPAS market is bigger, growing faster and is less competitive than LOHAS. I didn't say it was easy. And it definitely takes a different approach. But it is worth doing something about if your company cares about sustainability. It makes little systemic sense to sell solar panels to LOHAS in Boulder, while LOPAS in Accra burn kerosene or charcoal. What company can serve both markets? What synergies might exist?

As you think where sustainable growth will come from, it would be wise to follow both the LOHAS and the LOPAS. And if you are in Colorado, you have a chance to find out about both this month. Perhaps you will figure out how to turn some LOPAS into LOHAS. That seems like a good challenge for marketers.

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