Back in 2004 when I was working at J. Walter Thompson, the New York and Toronto planners circulated a study by an American sociologists Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson we all found quite interesting. The study posited a new macro-segment of North American society they called “LOHAS” (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). Shortly thereafter, a book by a different author came out called The Cultural Creatives. Ray and Anderson estimated 40 million Americans or more were, for a variety of reasons, interested in brands and lifestyle choices that were more natural, sustainable, and healthier.
During this time, Whole Foods emerged as a massive new force to be reckoned with in the grocery category. Toyota Prius opened up a whole new realm within automotive. Walmart has now gone whole hog into green and organic. Tesla and electric cars have captivated our imagination. New categories such as “NHP” (natural health products) have emerged. The list goes on and on.
Whether we believe in these kinds of brands or not, or whether we believe in the individual studies that have been published, we would be foolish not to understand – and leverage – this continuing tendency. I said in a recent client meeting: “Progressive is mainstream”.
Some articles and links:
A new, or rather “new age”, web portal/community that is attracting an influx of subscribers, including director James Cameron (who was inspired by these ideas to write the screenplay for Avatar).
And as a full-on transnational corporate example, GE’s ‘Ecomagination’ platform, which is now studied at business schools:
Welcome to the 21st century, y’all.