Big and Small Businesses Shifting Focus to Include Mainstream Consumers in Environemtal Push

Perceptions of the green marketplace and green consumers are changing. The LOHAS 12 Forum, which took place June 18-21, opened the door for some lively discussions and eye opening realizations about the evolving trends and the progression of the "green purchaser". The LOHAS consumer, the individual who makes purchasing decisions based on their values of personal and planetary health and benefit, accounts for a healthy 19% of the overall LOHAS marketplace. However, according to several key note speakers and LOHAS conference luminaries, while they continue to be the primary influencers, they are no longer the primary focus of businesses developing more eco-friendly products and services.

The LOHAS consumer base has remained static for several years, while the overall LOHAS marketplace continues to grow. More and more individuals have come to appreciate the value and attributes of products offered in the green, fair-trade, eco-friendly and organic market area; but are not at all interested in changing their purchasing habits. They are instead looking to their familiar and favorite products, businesses and organizations to incorporate strategic and sustainable, green practices. The LOHAS 12 Forum disclosed that this will be the next wave in business. In fact, according to The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), the LOHAS marketplace is expected to nearly double in size, from $209 billion to an incredible $400 billion by 2010.

The Forum showcased the melding of two different worlds: corporate and boutique. The collaborations allowed for attendees to recognize that not all big businesses are out of tune with the ideals of going green and being sustainable. One particular, controversial, panel discussion was a highlight of the Forum, where Rand Waddoups, the Senior Director of Strategy and Sustainability for Wal-Mart, shared the stage with Michael Besancon, the South West Regional President of Whole Foods Markets. The two came together to surprisingly reveal that they share the same ideas, approaches and strategies on sustainable business practices. They both understand consumer trends and the ever-changing and evolving green marketplace. Ultimately, they are striving for the same end-goal: guiding consumers, within their markets, while providing better products and services that help, not hurt, the environment and society. The LOHAS 12 Forum was just what attendees needed to shake up their pre-existing
thoughts, while embracing new concepts and initiatives showcasing how all businesses can work together.

Influential discussions took place in every corner of the Forum. One of the most notable was a conversation between Ted Ning, the Executive Director of the LOHAS conference and an attendee, with both sharing their thoughts about how the LOHAS marketplace could be described as the engine driving the mainstream consumer market. Their discussion centered on the understanding that it takes a core group of pioneers and truly organically grown green businesses to set the standard for all others to learn from, adopt their ideas from and hopefully follow in their footsteps.

The LOHAS 12 Forum offered attendees numerous networking and learning opportunities, and featured a variety of unique and engaging events, resulting in many different highlight moments. There were numerous lively speaking sessions, including "Conscious Money", "The True Value of Organic", "Natural Solutions to Wellness", "Fair Trade and Sustainable Sourcing" to "Penetrating Mainstream Markets with LOHAS Products". The morning yoga session with internationally acclaimed yoga instructors Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman were always packed. A live butterfly release ceremony, held in the courtyard was the epitome of life, beauty and
rebirth. And all enjoyed the organic tastings, the array of LOHAS companies exhibiting, the plethora of magazines and newspapers dedicated to the LOHAS lifestyle, as well as the pleasant feeling of being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all in their unique ways, making a difference.

Ted Ning was thrilled with this year's turn out. He was pleased with the overall message that most attendees seemed to be taking away from the Forum which is "It's not a new way of doing business; it's a better way of doing business". The conference promotes a marketplace and industry that presents high quality products and services that just happen to be green.

It's a way of life and an added benefit that the LOHAS community can't live without.

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