Editor’s note: This article is the second part of a two-part series running in Skin Inc. magazine about discovering and exploring a segment of people interested in lifestyles of health and sustainability—the LOHAS market. In the first installment, which ran in the February 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine, an introductory overview of the LOHAS market was presented, and information on learning how to define your company’s LOHAS identity, developing your own sustainability statement, and lining up new features, products and services that are LOHAS-inspired was included. In this installment, dig a little deeper to craft LOHAS-related marketing, advertising and publicity strategies.
Marketing is an umbrella that covers everything from market research and product development to client service and retention after the sale. It also incorporates meaningful communications based on your corporate identity and your goals and objectives. All printed materials, Web sites, media advertising, public relations and publicity should blend seamlessly in your marketing plan.
The bottom line to marketing is acquiring good clients and then keeping them. All companies are faced with the challenge of broadening their markets because client bases are dynamic in nature and competition is always present. Your goal is to expand your client base while at the same time getting those clients to buy your products or services more often and more repeatedly.
Expanding your marketing to include a strategy targeting the LOHAS market is a great opportunity to enhance the marketing tactics you already have in place, as well as to branch out and gather new clients who are in alignment with this values-driven market.
The LOHAS segment of an existing base
When developing your market research strategy, a good place to start is in-house, with your existing customers. Determine what percentage of your customer base is open to—or even already living—a LOHAS lifestyle. With LOHAS consumers being passionate about the environment, energy conservation, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, organic foods and products, health and wellness, and a mind/body/spirit balance, they are clearly a distinct group.
Start by having your spa team members ask clients a few opening questions before beginning a treatment. Or, ideally, you can have a professional in place at the reception desk who gives clients a form to fill out, with questions such as:
On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the following as being important to you?
Green, energy conservation and recycling
Organic foods and products
Balance of mind/body/spirit
Corporate social responsibility
Preserving the environment
Then ask your clients for suggestions on services and products they’d like to see in your spa. Most people are happy to provide input, especially knowing that you regard their opinions as valuable. Also, giving clients a green gift after they fill out the form is another great little incentive.
If you manufacture products or sell services, direct your sales staff to query their accounts. What LOHAS values are important to them? What enhanced services can you provide to help them achieve their goals and objectives? How do your products fit into their LOHAS model? Tally up the results, and take all suggestions into consideration. What areas do you see that are the most important? How well does the information match up with your LOHAS corporate identity?
And though forms can help you determine percentages, face to face conversations can more easily add that extra something—there is always more to the story. Clients are often one of the best sources of information, and just one tip can pay off big. With information directly from clients, it’s easier to determine needs and present solutions than it is to push a product or service into a cold market.
In addition, you’ll have an edge because many companies do not employ this tactic. Do be prepared—depending on your business and location, some of your clients might not be as interested in LOHAS values. Keep in mind there are gradations in this market—some areas are more important to some people than others. However, wait it out. Chances are more people soon will be interested.
The fact is, more and more cities, communities, organizations and companies are embracing the values of LOHAS. According to Linda Povey, vice president of strategic consulting with the Natural Marketing Institute, “greening” is spreading like wildfire, and everyone is getting on the bandwagon. But she expects a shakeout over the next few years as companies who are not truthful about their values will fall by the wayside. LOHAS consumers are not fickle. They are loyal, and they remember.
Now, with your freshly conducted, in-house client research, you should have a good representation of the LOHAS consumers within your client base. Create a list and broadcast your new features. The list should be comprised of answers to the questions you asked and include information such as: the percentage of your clients who are interested in organic aromatherapy; the percentage who find it important to use fair trade organic teas; the percentage who want ongoing education in nutrition, and so on. Then start in-house promotions and weave these new features into your existing marketing and advertising. For example, add notes about your organic and fair trade options in your brochures, point-of-sale displays, gift cards, coupons and in any other advertising already in place.
Next, check out what is going on in your community or city, and look into how you can contribute. Even if you are a destination or resort spa, this step is important to your overall sustainability statement. Becoming a visible part of this movement will help you and your efforts to become more well-known.
Are you a member of your local chamber? If not, joining is likely a wise move. Are there LOHAS values-oriented seminars and events taking place in your area where you can tap into the existing LOHAS market? Consider contacting the producers of these events, and buy lists of names of attendees as well as exhibitors. Join like-minded organizations, determine what companies match your spa’s values and decide who you’d like to partner with in this effort.
Moving into the next phase of your LOHAS marketing plan, develop a communications campaign that is ongoing. Building relationships with clients through meaningful communications is a key to good business, and, when reaching out with your LOHAS message, direct mail is one good way to go.
“Spa products and services are experiential in nature,” Povey explains. “LOHAS consumers generally like to take the time to sit down, read and learn at their leisure.” Consider purchasing a customized market survey report to learn about your local market and LOHAS. This report will provide information that will be useful when you purchase a list and develop a direct mail campaign. Organizations such as the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) can be contacted to inquire about marketing services from professional spa organizations, such as the International SPA Association, and research list companies from resources such as www.targetmarketingmag.com. A list company can customize a list per your specifications—location, gender, income and more.
To further develop your meaningful communication with potential and existing LOHAS-oriented clients, use the following guidelines.