No longer a niche, the LOHAS specialty food and beverage consumer has officially infiltrated the mainstream market, and the opportunity for brands is enormous. LOHAS consumers now represent more than 25% of American shoppers and over $290 billion in sales – a huge opportunity – but their loyalty isn’t easy to come by.
Today’s specialty food and beverage brands need to do more than just “go organic” or slap a GMO-free label on their packaging to remain relevant. They need to be able to speak the same language as the LOHAS consumer, and communicate with them in a way that feels honest, authentic, and real.
Glenn Rudberg, Ethos Director of Brand Strategy and specialty food and beverage expert, offers 10 tips for talking to the LOHAS consumer:
It may seem obvious, but honesty, and more importantly authenticity, is critical in communicating with LOHAS consumers. In the past, legacy brands were often able to get away with “fudging it” when it came to product claims, or telling only a part of their story, and leaving out any unsavory details. That strategy just won’t fly with LOHAS consumers. They want the whole story, down the last ingredient and where it was sourced. And they’re the first to call you out when you can’t live up to your brand promises.
Speak in the First Person
Traditional marketing execs might be cringing right now, but at least when it comes to LOHAS consumers (and honestly, most mainstream consumers as well), you have to be informal. Like, first person informal. Conversational informal. Real, raw, chatting with your neighbor kind of informal. LOHAS consumers don’t want to hear from a company, they want to hear from a person. So, start talking like one.
Tell the Whole Story
It may seem like nothing more than boring details to you, but LOHAS consumers want to know the whole story. Not just what’s in your product, but how you thought of it, what inspired you, who works for you, and why they come to work every day. They want to know where your ingredients are sourced and how. LOHAS specialty food and beverage consumers are less interested in the details of the product and more interested in the story behind it – so give ‘em what they want!
When communicating your story to LOHAS consumers, be sure to tell it like it is – every little detail, even the inconvenient ones. LOHAS consumers are dedicated researchers – they will uncover the truth one way or another – but it always goes over better when it comes directly from you. Be upfront and transparent about everything you do, and LOHAS consumers will at least respect your honesty.
Understand Who You’re Talking To
While it’s tempting to lump all LOHAS specialty food and beverage consumers into one convenient cohort, the reality is slightly more complicated. Just like Millennials, LOHAS consumers are a diverse group of people with varying interests, values, and preferred methods of communication. Make sure when you’re talking to LOHAS consumers that you don’t just stop there when it comes to segmenting your audience. Try to understand what type of LOHAS consumer you’re talking to – young, old, concerned about the environment, concerned about human rights, seeking a healthy lifestyle, looking out for their kids, etc. Tailor your messaging to the specific LOHAS consumer you’re targeting.
Keep it Local
LOHAS consumers are all about local. Not just made in the USA, but made in this state, this neighborhood, and more importantly, by this specific neighbor. Highlight any and all aspects of your business that could be considered local, from where you source products, to the people you employ and the families they support.
LOHAS consumers are first and foremost consumers of information. They’re dedicated researchers and always looking for the story behind the story. Support them in this quest by providing them all the information they could ever ask for about your product or service ahead of time. This helps to satisfy their desire for information, as well as build trust in your brand.
It may seem like LOHAS specialty food and beverage consumers are worried about a lot of things – the environment, human rights abuses, children’s health, etc. – but the when it comes down to it, they’re actually a rather optimistic segment. LOHAS consumers believe in better and pursue it wholeheartedly in everything they do. If you want your brand to resonate with them, adopt a thoughtful yet optimistic tone that conveys concern, but also hope for the future.
Keep it Small
While this belief may be shifting, for the most part, LOHAS consumers believe small is a big idea [link to COOMBS]. They want to support small brands, and real people – not faceless corporations. Whatever the size of your company, you can appeal to this sentiment by highlighting the ways in which your company operates like a small mom and pop shop. Be human, share personal stories, showcase your work in the community and be flexible and responsive to customers – just like a local business would. An empowered and responsive social media team is one great way to connect with customers on a “local” level, even if you don’t have actual boots on the ground.
More than anything else, LOHAS consumers are primarily value shoppers. Not value in the price sense, but rather, they care about what the company stands for. They’re buying based on shared beliefs, rather than product attributes or price. The most important way brands can connect with LOHAS specialty food and beverage consumers is to understand and share their values – and to live those values through everything they do. A page about it on your website won’t be enough. You’ll need to commit real resources and change actual processes to prove your commitment to the values that you and your customers believe in.
Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine.
At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.
With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.