The Natural Marketing institute has interviewed U.S. consumers for their attitudes and behaviors toward sustainability and environmental concerns every year since 2002. From this knowledge, the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) segmentation model has been developed that classifies consumers into one of five groups, depending on their awareness and involvement in green issues.
The five LOHAS segments as defined by NMI include:
LOHAS (17%) - active environmental stewards dedicated to personal and planetary health. These are the heaviest purchasers of green/socially-responsible products and the early adapters who influence others heavily.
NATURALITES (17%) - motivated primarily by personal health considerations. Tend to purchase more LOHAS consumable products vs. durable items.
DRIFTERS (24%) - while their intentions may be good, DRIFTERS follow trends when it's easy and affordable. They are currently quite engaged in green purchasing behaviors.
CONVENTIONALS (26%) - pragmatists who embrace LOHAS behavior when they believe they can make a difference, but are primarily focused on being very careful with their resources and doing the "right" thing because it will save them money.
UNCONCERNED (16%) - either unaware or unconcerned about the environment and societal issues mainly because they don't have the time or the means - these consumers are largely focused on getting by.
Green has evolved to where it can be a mainstream consumer proposition in many categories. While nearly 20% of consumers fall into the LOHAS "environmental steward" category in Neisen's research , more than 60% have at least some interest in green. Although appealing to the LOHAS consumer is a critical first step, being successful in the mass market likely means that you need to move beyond the LOHAS consumer and attract other consumer groups. According to Nielsen, this broader appeal is what sets the strongest green initiatives apart from the weaker ones.