A new report from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) says that consumer spending on products related to health and sustainability reached $290 billion in 2008. The analysis found increases in many spending categories within lifestyles of health and sustainability, known as LOHAS.
"The biggest growth has been in green building and alternate energy, which more than doubled from 2005 to 2008," Gwynne Rogers, NMI's LOHAS Business Director, tells Marketing Daily. Spending within the personal health category -- the biggest of five core categories -- was also up, at $117 billion.
"Sales of organic food hit $23.6 billion in 2008, almost double what it was in 2005," she says. "And spending on personal care products rose from $4.9 billion to $8.4 billion. Those gains aren't surprising, when you think of the greater involvement of large companies, such as Clorox's acquisition of a company like Burt's Bees. With so many larger companies offering LOHAS products, the scale changes dramatically."
Spending on supplements rose to $23.2 billion, from $19.6 billion.
Green building, which includes things like certified homes and Energy Star appliances, came in at $100 billion; eco-tourism at $42 billion; alternative transportation (such as hybrids, diesel and electric vehicles) at $20 billion; natural lifestyles (comprised of apparel and home furnishings) $10 billion, and alternative energy, $1 billion. (While NMI does consider socially responsible investing part of LOHAS, those numbers are not included in the total.)
The Harleysville, Pa.-based company collaborates with Georgetown University to track spending.
Rogers says she expects to see that LOHAS spending will have continued to grow, right through the recession, with the biggest gains in products that relate most directly to health or energy savings. "Those benefits are much more tangible and immediate for consumers, so it's always easier for those types of products to grow faster."