The responsible traveler


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As a result of conducting a survey of American adults in 2013, the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) developed a proprietary sustainability segmentation model that quantified what attracts people to sustainable products. (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

Sustainability Segmentation Model (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

The segmentation model indicates that not only does the LOHAS consumer remain the primary target for environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and healthy products, but the NATURALITES are also considered a top tier segment. Driven by the mainstreaming of the marketplace across various products and services, the two “middle” segments (DRIFTERS and CONVENTIONALS) are each drawn to different elements of the broader LOHAS marketplace. (Rogers, 2010)

Based on this segmentation, the LOHAS consumer comprises 21% of the American population translating to 50 million adult consumers (also representing an increase of 5% from 2006). (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

This group continues to show tremendous leadership in their attitudes toward the environment, society and socially responsible business; their usage of LOHAS products exceeds most other segments; and they are continually demanding greater sensitivity to these issues across numerous corporate activities. (Rogers, 2010)

NMI further outlined their demographic, psychographic, and purchasing characteristics as well as marketing preferences of the LOHAS segment, as depicted below. (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

LOHAS Segment (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

Consumers within the passionate, vigorous LOHAS segment continue to be early adopters, influential over friends and family, less price sensitive, and more brand loyal. In essence, their social structure and internalized values form the basis for making them an attractive consumer target across a host of strategic marketing activities, including marketing fair trade travel options. (Rogers, 2010)

(Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

The NATURALITES segment (depicted on page 14) constitutes approximately 20% of U.S. adults. They are zealous about their own personal health, and use many healthy and natural consumer packaged goods. In other words, their belief systems are manifested in the ethical consumption of consumables, but they are not highly driven to durables. Therefore, while they are less committed to the notions of “holistic sustainability,” they are also a primary target for many companies, or for companies with a more mainstream proposition that have a strategic desire to appeal to a larger segment of the American population. (Rogers, 2010)

NATURALITES are also highly attracted to mind / body / spirit philosophies. They are the most likely segment to pray (three-quarters do regularly), and the second most likely segment to meditate (27 percent). It is clearly evident that their view of health includes not just their physical health, but their mental and spiritual dimensionalities, as well. (Rogers, 2010)

Naturalites Segment (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

While an interesting segment, there are two detractors that do not make NATURALITES a viable one for marketing travel to South Africa. First, this segment is focused on purchasing household products that fit their lifestyles and second, this segment has lower levels of education and income as compared to others. Therefore, the potential for being able to afford long-haul travel packages remains low.

Drifters Segment (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

While DRIFTERS (depicted above), at 24% percent of American adults, are attitudinally aligned with some dimensions of the LOHAS market, their behavior lags behind that of the “average” American adult. They are a younger segment, have more financial barriers, and have not yet fully formed their optimal values structure and ethical consumption standards. (Rogers, 2010)

While nearly half wish they did more for the environment, they are more likely to:

  • want to choose environmentally-friendly products, but often choose ones that aren’t;

  • want to do more to protect the environment, but don’t know how;

  • believe that considering the environmental impact of their purchase decisions is too difficult; and

  • think they personally cannot make a difference.

DRIFTERS are in need of some guidance, inspiration and education—an inherent opportunity to capitalize on for fair trade travel. They represent nearly 57 million consumers, and transferring their attitudes into purchase behavior could translate into even more momentum in the LOHAS market. (Rogers, 2010)

Conventionals Segment (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

CONVENTIONALS, 18 percent of the U.S. population, seem to also represent an attractive target for some companies, particularly those with a fiscally-responsible product like energy-efficient electronics and appliances or green building products. This segment shows predisposition to various “practical” LOHAS products and activities. In some cases, they are more behaviorally engaged than NATURALITES (though not as much as LOHAS consumers). For example, CONVENTIONALS are significantly more likely than NATURALITES to:

  • donate money to an environmental group;

  • encourage elected officials to pass laws to protect the environment;

  • recycle; and

  • for marketers with a product/service that has a health-related and financial benefit (even over the long term), CONVENTIONALS may be part of a successful marketing strategy. (Rogers, 2010)

With respect to South Africa, CONVENTIONALS may represent an interesting long-term marketing prospect. However, given that marketing strategies will have to focus on fair trade education and heartland values-driven consumption, the tie back to long-haul travel may be too cumbersome.

Unconcerned Segment (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

Finally, NMI delineated the characteristics of the UNCONCERNED segment (depicted above), representing 18% of Americans. However, they do not represent a viable market for fair trade products. (Natural Marketing Institute, 2013)

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