Cultural Creatives and the LOHAS Movement

According to sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson, there is an emerging market segment known as the “cultural creatives” who make up approximately 50 million adult Americans (slightly over one quarter of the adult population). In their 2000 book entitled The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World the authors sought to research, quantify, and categorize this emerging set of individuals and their respective values in order to better understand the group that, if mobilized, could eventually wield enormous social, moral, and political influence. From the synopsis of the book on Amazon.com:

‘Cultural Creative’ is a term coined by Ray and Anderson to describe people whose values embrace a curiosity and concern for the world, its ecosystem, and its peoples; an awareness of and activism for peace and social justice; and an openness to self-actualization through spirituality, psychotherapy, and holistic practices. Cultural Creatives do not just take the money and run; they don’t want to defund the National Endowment for the Arts; and they do want women to get a fairer shake–not only in the United States, but around the globe.

Since Ray and Anderson assert that “values are the best single predictor of real behavior,” it’s important for marketers to understand this demographic segment and their underlying values, which of course guide purchasing behavior. Below is a list of values associated with the profile of a Cultural Creative (courtesy of the World Forum web site):

  • embrace technology and economic development but only within a deep affirmation of the environment and community;
  • tend to view the world from the perspective of holistic systems;
  • pay attention to world events and global trends;
  • can be characterized as both inner-directed and socially concerned;
  • have spiritual and psychological depth as well as the maturity needed for a new culture;
  • are also intensely entrepreneurial and creative: founders and leaders of most of the green and socially responsible businesses; involved in many of the most socially active NGOs and non-profit organizations; etc.

Members of the Cultural Creative subculture are also known as the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) market segment. Worldwatch Institute reported that the LOHAS market segment in the year 2006 was estimated at $300 billion, approximately 30% of the U.S. consumer market, and … wouldn’t you know it, there’s even a web site dedicated to the LOHAS movement that provides business-focused resources on the growing LOHAS market and serves as the central hub for education, updated news, and B2B gatherings of those cultivating the LOHAS movement.

For what it’s worth, below is a short video I came across that begins with an interview from Paul H. Ray, which provides more detail about the inspiration behind the research for the book:

6 comments

  1. This was a great Blog, I think that “have spiritual and psychological depth as well as the maturity needed for a new culture”, is the heart of any good manager. We as managers sometimes think of ourselves as impurviouse to new ideas, this is a bad rut to fall into.

  2. This article has really sparked my interest. I’ve never heard this term used before, “cultural creative”. I know people like this exist, based on the characteristics you have listed (and the additional ones I found on the wiki page for cultural creative), because I think I fall into this category myself. It really hit home when the video said that “one thing they have in common, is the belief that they are alone.” I often wonder how many people, at least in the United States, think about things as they relate to everyone, instead of just thinking in simple terms, like how does this affect me or my people.

    I do feel very alone in these thoughts sometimes, as mentioned in the video clip. But, living in the south, I’ve often wondered if the idea of being alone in these thoughts has more to do with the people in my geographic region, than its basis in reality (everyone being more concerned about themselves than the affects their choices have on others). Being in a southern, red state, surrounded by fairly religious, right-wingers may have warped my view and may be what has lead me to thinking I’m alone. I often wonder if I lived somewhere more progressive, like the northeast, if I would have a different perspective on people’s thoughts/actions, pertaining to this subject. But, since the video stated this shared perception of being alone, I’m starting to wonder if there is more to it than this.

    Something I struggle with understanding is how religious individuals reconcile their religious beliefs and values with their views on the world and how things should be. I can’t understand how a very “Christian” nation wouldn’t have a majority of these cultural creative thinkers instead of individuals who just care about themselves and the people close to them. The value sets from their religious beliefs and the real life decisions they make, don’t match up. How are all these ultra religious people able to feel good about themselves in church every Sunday when during the week they are being prejudice against minorities (hello…Jesus was middle eastern), fighting against any taxes (which in reality help all of us including the poor who have no means to help themselves), fighting against programs that help the poor (because they view them as unworthy), fighting for corporations, destroying the earth (which they believe was a gift from god), etc. I just don’t get it.

    Hopefully this emerging segment of the population is a group that will continue to grow, thus changing marketing strategies, our way of doing business, and our way of thinking overall.

    • Catherine – thanks for the commentary! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I have a feeling that this is a group that’s not going away. I think what you’re talking about illustrates the fact that we’re seeing a fundamental shift taking place in society today, moving from one mass ideology to perhaps another. The World Forum web site I mentioned above states: “The emergence of the Cultural Creatives is a crucially important development in world historical terms because this is the first time in over 600 years — since the Renaissance — that a new value system has arisen in western civilization, and it marks the first time in recorded history when a value shift has emerged at a global level simultaneously. “

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