LOHAS and ZOOMERS – Market Segments You Need to Know

Demographics, everyone is trying to understand them. Marketers use demographics to explain who their audience is, and why their customers are buying what they are buying. Usually those demographics are Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomers, and the traditional age demographics 18-24, 25-34, and so on, but really this type of segmentation is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are two demographic groups who will have more influence on your bottom line than you will ever know, and they do not fit so nicely into traditional categories. These two demographics are about lifestyle and mindset and their choices reflect a state of mind, rather than pre-defined cluster analysis.

Alexa, Google and Facebook are great at giving you broad sweeping generalizations about your viewing audience, but they can’t explain what drives this audience. Not all educated women 25-34 with children are the same. Even Neilson, Forrester and Ipsos cannot give you an understanding of who is buying your product or browsing your site.

It is not their fault; the digital world allows people the opportunity to explore their world in a whole new way. Once upon a, in the not too distant past, demographic groups were exposed only to what was immediately available in the bookstore, the library, on TV, in newspapers, and what they were exposed to by friends, family and on their travels. Information was available in small bites, when the timing allowed for them to be exposed.

In our new digital world, information is fed to us 24 hours a day. The bites which a person takes in can be overwhelming; the information can be searched and pushed to whoever is looking. Exposure is allowing consumers to broaden their choices, refine their interests, and delve into new interests with a click of a mouse.

So who are these two groups you need to know about? LOHAS and ZOOMERS. WHO? I repeat, LOHAS and ZOOMERS, and no I did not make these terms up. I have had the opportunity to pitch a new business several times now to Angels, VC’s, and judges. The one question after every pitch; who are LOHAS and Zoomers? Audiences are sure I have created two new demographics out of thin air for the purpose of the business.

I haven’t! LOHAS and ZOOMERS are two demographics you need to pay attention to. They are about a way of life.

So who are they? What are they about? LOHAS and ZOOMERS are a mindset, they cannot be lumped into the traditional demographic clusters, they are unique and they sometimes cross-over into each other’s demographic subset.

LOHAS – Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, say that one three times fast. So here is a little information about them; they represent about 13-19% of the US population, for those who don’t want to do the math, between 41 and 60 million Americans, and growing about 10% per year. The LOHAS age demographic for the traditionalists, any one over the age of 18 can fit into the LOHAS category.

LOHAS are all about Health and Sustainability, theirs, their local community, and the global community. LOHAS are concerned with social justice, personal development, sustainable living, and cultural awareness. LOHAS.com is a great site which will give you some insight into the market numbers.

Here is a brief overview of the LOHAS market; these numbers are available through the Natural Marketing Institute, on LOHAS.com, to name a few.

LOHAS Personal Health Market – this is your HBA category. Starts-up often target 1% of a market (not necessarily the right way to do it when looking at a market), having said that; this category is estimated at approximately US$117.0 billion.

LOHAS Natural Lifestyle – this category is essentially home accessories and apparel, approximately US$10.0 billion. I attribute this to the simple fact that the Natural Lifestyle choices do not yet exists en masse. Bamboo, hemp and natural dies just don’t seem to be cost effective enough for most small or large companies to tackle the market. For those who are trying to tackle these markets the supply chain is just too small, and the economics just are not sustainable enough for them to justify the venture.

LOHAS Green Building – fairly self-explanatory category, everything from energy star appliances, bamboo flooring to energy efficient home certification. Like HBA, this is a large market, over US$100 billion. The trend to green, to sustainable, is driven by a number of factors, but that is an article for another day. As the price of energy increases and people are looking for ways to cut the cost of running their homes, this category will only increase.

Globally the price of electricity, energy in general, is increasing; demand is outstripped by supply, hence rolling brown-outs in cities across the world. This category is growing and the opportunity is vast. LOHAS are concerned, and they know that they can make an impact of the opportunity is available.

LOHAS Alternative Energy and Alternative Transportation – two categories, much like the Green Building category is driven by the need to limit the impact on the environment. Of course as reports on energy price increases, water supplies decreasing, and global temperatures increasing, LOHAS will continue to do their part, to make an incremental impact, to offset those who are not.

LOHAS is a mindset, and a demographic not to be ignored.

There is a final category which needs to be looked at, this industry is a monster. It is broad and segmented; each segment is co-dependent on the other, travel and tourism. The World Tourism Organization pegged the world-wide travel market in 2010 at 781€ billion, that translates into approximately, you might want to sit down for the conversion; approximately US$1.1 trillion in 2010.

LOHAS Eco-Tourism and Travel – This category covers everything from biking through the Napa Valley or France, to cultural immersion, volunteer travel and adventure travel. For the LOHAS segment this is approximately US$42 billion, and I should mention the adventure travel market is the fastest growing segment of the travel market.

The message… ignore LOHAS at your own peril.

I have talked about the LOHAS, what about the ZOOMERS? Aahhh, what a fabulous segment, they are smart, they are curious, they are into almost everything, and they have the money.

We all understand Boomers, born post-WWII (1946 to 1964), or so we think. We make a lot of assumptions which could steer us in the wrong direction.

Mistake #1 – All boomers fall into the same demographic and same mind set. Much of the media coverage and advertising tells us boomers are starting to retire; the visuals sent out are of greying couples riding a bike, reading a newspaper and sitting leisurely drinking their coffee.

For those under 35, when they hear “Boomer” their first thought is the Boomer from the TV show “Saved by the Bell”; their next thought is their grandparents.

Mistake #2 – Often boomers are categorized as the demographic who is not so savvy with a smartphone, not so good with the computer, and don’t really understand the internet. Be careful you don’t fall into this trap.

Mistake #3 – Assuming all boomers are retiring; remember 1964 was not so long ago, and this group hasn’t reached their 50th birthday, and certainly not retiring any time soon. If they have retired it’s because they can, and it is more likely a hiatus before their next great adventure in the working world. They have worked hard, invested well, and can afford to take some time.

Boomers account for 65% of the Canadian and US net worth. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I am fairly sure this is a reasonable estimate in Europe as well.

My parents are “Boomers”, I promise you, if you made even one of the above 3 mistakes you have not captured my parents in your target audience. They are in their 60’s, they have their iPhones and Blackberry, they are serial entrepreneurs, and they certainly do not understand the sweet grey couple who is pictured in the media.

So who are my parents? They are ZOOMERS. Who? ZOOMERS! No, I did not make up the term, it is real, it is defined, and ZOOMERS need to be understood.

Zoomers are a sub segment of the boomers that very few are talking about. I love this quote, I came across it when I was trying to understand the Zoomers, it is a perfect description, and the credit must go to John A. Cutter at the St.Petersburg Times. Zoomers are a


“no-limits baby boomer who sees retirement as the fast lane to a more energetic, new life characterized by healthy living, a high level of physical activity, a quest for further education and who possesses technological and financial savvy.”

In Canada, Zoomers account for 44% of the population (14.5 million) and control more than 77% of all Canadian wealth. This is approximately the same statistic in the United States.

We have websites (zoomer.ca), magazines (zoomermag.com) and radio stations (zoomerradio.ca) dedicated to Zoomers.

Zoomers are smart, savvy, and many are tech junkies. They are entrepreneurs, they are adventurers, and they are not in favour of the boring and the mundane. Do not call them Mr. or Mrs., they are not old enough for that. Do not assume they want to go to bingo or on a senior’s trip to the casino. They are certainly not seniors, and cringe at the thought of using a senior’s discount.

Zoomers are likely to be the neighbours on the street hosting a loud party on a Friday or Saturday night. If you are going travelling Zoomers are just as likely to be climbing Kilimanjaro as the 30 something’s.

For Zoomers – 60 is the new 40! I promise you no 40 year old wants to be thought of a senior.

Zoomers are certainly not old enough to be shut out of life, and don’t want to be sold on senior’s trips, senior’s packages, and a senior way of life.

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