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.


Unknown said...

Hi Paul,

I am wondering what the agenda is like for the IDDS summit? I know the agenda for this year is to present actual marketable solutions - Are there any days when business programs are presented when investors can maybe visit from the outside to discuss possible investments with entrepreneurs? If there are I would appreciate it if you would let me know.


courtney said...

Hi Paul,

I was wondering if you might be willing to apply your entrepreneur expertise to Educate!, a non-profit that is working to enable Ugandans with social entrepreneurship skills.
Our website is I've included some more information below. Thanks for your help,

Educate! was founded in 2002 by a 17 year old social entrepreneur, Eric Glustrom. The non-profit focuses its efforts on young Africans and believes that youth need the right knowledge, guidance, and mentorship to unleash their potential. Educate! helps young Africans transform their enthusiasm into action. We want to prove that the youth of today can solve the greatest challenges Africa is facing. Uganda is a logical place to start because schools, organizations, and the government have jumped behind this vision. Today, 830 Educate! students at 24 high schools across Uganda are enrolled in the Educate! Experience.

Educate! has instated a two-year curriculum focusing on social change, mentorship, and leadership that equips students with the skills and confidence necessary to transform their communities. Students have started a variety of self-sustaining initiatives and enterprises:

* One business turns waste paper into bulletin boards.
* Student Lilian Aero created a jewelry business that gives women with HIV/AIDS a chance to earn money by selling handmade jewelry.
* A tree nursery enterprise begun by another Educate! scholar has impacted over 10,000 people.

Educate! is a recent winner of the Champions of Quality Education in Africa competition, a collaboration between Ashoka’s Changemakers and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. We were also recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of 100 Brilliant Companies in 2009. DoSomething listed Glustroom as one of America's top five change-makers under 25. The Echoing Green fellowship touted Educate!'s potential as a social change venture to be among the highest in the world.

Bopreneur said...

Faiza- please check the IDDS website. We will have some events open to the public. The website will have this information as soon as it is available.

Courtney- sounds like Educate! is making good progress. Not sure how my expertise can help from what you have provided. You are already working with some great organizations (Echoing Green, Ashoka, etc.)


Joseph Cone Darnell said...

I like this Paul! It might also be tempting to think of how you could turn some of those LOHAS into LOPAS...but that`s not exactly the kind of revolution you`re looking to start! I`m back in MX, experiencing some light P and S of my own, but getting settled back in at UADY. Hope all is well in Colorado!