After realizing the limited resources and the environmental challenges that we face at the beginning of the 21st century, marketing experts are today interested in global issues such as sustainable development and sustainable consumption [1
]. Sustainable consumption can become a reality if consumers are highly committed to, and conscious of, their own, self-chosen values, and if their consumption motivations follow these values in real shopping situations. This “new type” of consumer behavior can be regarded as “sustainable consumption”, and its most committed consumers are referred to as LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) by the literature [4
Over the past few decades a number of research studies have focused on a market segmentation based on human values. A common assumption of these investigations was that values are closely related to behavior, often more closely than to personality traits. At the same time, values are less numerous and more centralized, and are connected to motivation more directly than attitudes [7
]. A review of the literature shows the following measurement tools have been used to investigate this subject: the Rokeach value system (RVS) [9
]; the values and lifestyles system (VALS) [10
]; the list of values (LOV) [11
] and Schwartz’s human values [12
]. Due to its simplicity and widespread utility in marketing research, Kahle’s List of Values [11
] is the most widespread.
In 2002, the Natural Marketing Institute, with the help of a new segmentation model and within the framework of a quantitative consumer survey, divided the market for environmental friendly products into different segments on the basis of consumer attitudes towards the environment, ethical consumption and sustainability, as well as on how these attitudes influence consumer behavior. According to the results of the research, the following five segments can be identified: LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability), Naturalists, Drifters, Conventionalists and the Unconcerned. According to this segmentation model, the elements that most determine the LOHAS consumer group’s attitudes are the environment, society and socially responsible business. The early followers are able to influence their family and friends; furthermore, they are less price-sensitive and are typically brand loyal. In short, their social role and inner values constitute the basis that makes them the target of many marketing activities [13
The demographic composition of LOHAS consumers, based on the results of the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), can be described as follows: a typical LOHAS consumer is a married, middle-aged woman and, in most cases, she has no children. LOHAS consumers generally have a high salary and a university degree [14
]. Moreover, a young LOHAS group has also appeared recently. This group includes members of the millennium generation for whom environmental concerns are especially important [15
]. They can be seen as an introductory stage towards the LOHAS lifestyle, and they are called the “Ecos” and “Alternatives”. In this sense a healthy lifestyle is not a defining element of their values. “Ecos” focus on ecological sustainability and often animal rights, while “Alternatives” concentrate on economic justice and are against the economic primacy of globalization [17
However, the LOHAS lifestyle is difficult to describe purely on the basis of demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, qualifications and income. Since the choice of values and value orientation help us when making different decisions, and are characteristic of a person or a consumer group, they have an outstanding role in consumer behavior-research [18
]. Longer periods of time are characterized by the nature of their value orientation [20
]. Today we have reached another turning point in values, namely an appreciation of human values. This period of value orientation is characterized by an avoidance of overconsumption, a desire to look after our environment, to protect our health and to seek the natural and authentic elements in our lives [19
]. Buerke et al’s [23
] results indicate that both consumer awareness and sustainability-focused value orientation have a direct positive influence on responsible consumer behavior.
Over the past few decades, several studies have analyzed the connection between values and lifestyle. The most important of these have revealed the connections between human values and the lifestyle of food-consumers [24
]. The impact of values on health behavior, which is strongly influenced by lifestyle, has also been analyzed by several researchers. Grube et al. [27
] examined the connection between value order and smoking, while Toler [28
] examined the link between personal values and alcoholism.
Value order is of particular interest, both in analyzing the consumer behavior of LOHAS individuals and in estimating their proportion among the population as a whole. LOHAS consumers—as can be seen from the acronym itself—live their lives consciously [29
], but they also feel responsible for others. Their commitment to sustainability manifests itself in purchases of environmental friendly and socially responsible products. In the world of LOHAS, sustainability is identified with the quest for individual health, spiritual wellbeing and a “more natural lifestyle” [30
]. According to the results of a study conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute, at least twice as many LOHAS consumers buy foods in environmental friendly packaging than individuals in other consumer segments [14
]. According to researches LOHAS consumers regularly purchase organic products [32
]. Fares and Zhang’s [33
] and Bonn et al’s [35
] analysis indicated that the attributes of a certified product would be more important for the LOHAS consumer. In addition to environmental aspects, the values of social responsibility can also be found in the decisions made by LOHAS consumers [14
]. These include, among others, their attitudes towards fair trade, ethical behavior and social justice. A search for individual values, e.g., wellness, enjoyment, comfort and personal improvement is also characteristic of this group [29
]. According to Ramirez [22
], ethical and individual values are also very important from the perspective of sustainable consumption.
On the whole, it can be said that the LOHAS lifestyle has five well-defined value categories that drive individuals’ behavior [39
]. These are authentic values, health consciousness, ethical values, individualism and environmental consciousness. Authentic values appear in the search for local and domestic products, while health consciousness is manifested in a healthy lifestyle, and ethical values are connected to the various forms of social responsibility. Individualism is expressed in the search for new products, in following new trends and in loyalty to brands. Environmental consciousness is manifest in a sustainable lifestyle, which includes a commitment to environmental protection. According to Park [42
], the LOHAS tendency has a positive effect on health consciousness and on life-satisfaction.
The research of the German Zukunftsinstitute (Institute of the Future) draws attention to another important feature of this group, namely that members of the LOHAS group are characterized by a hybrid lifestyle in which different characteristics—such as health, the search for experiences, and individualism—are unified with each other [6
This contradictory lifestyle has resulted in much criticism of the LOHAS group, since it is viewed as a sustainable lifestyle that, however, is restricted to the wealthy section of society. Sustainable living should not be limited to those with sufficient financial means. One of the main criticisms of LOHAS is the exclusion of considerations of sufficiency. LOHAS individuals put great emphasis on the overuse of resources in general, but food waste and under-nutrition is ignored. The question arises as to whether global resources can meet the demands of a growing number of LOHAS consumers. An alternative to LOHAS is seen in LOVOS (Lifestyle of Voluntary Simplicity), a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity that includes a stronger renunciation of consumption. ‘Less is more’ is a statement that LOHAS individuals would certainly not agree with [5
]. The LOHAS group has created a new market segment based on sustainability and could be held responsible for driving production beyond a necessary level and therefore undermining the effects of making markets more sustainable [44
]. Aesthetics and lifestyle are just as important to them as are aspects of sustainability [45
], and indeed LOHAS individuals can even contribute to an overall loss of sustainability [46
]. Attempts to promote only (free market) strategies that foster the establishment of a solid LOHAS group without giving other incentives for companies to produce in a more sustainable way can therefore be viewed in a critical light.
The LOHAS consumer group consists of about 100 million consumers around the world and in Europe it makes up approximately 20% of the population. LOHAS is a trend that is present mostly in the western world, but is also widespread among consumers in Asia [40
]. In the developed countries, the proportion of consumers who make their shopping decisions considering aspects of ethical and environmental protection can even approach 25%. Current market research promises an increasing significance for LOHAS, which represents a multi-billion marketplace. Globally, LOHAS is an annual 500 billion US dollar market [47
]. According to another estimate, LOHAS is a 355 billion dollar market in the United States alone and a 546 billion US dollar market worldwide [48
]. In the USA, the size of this group is estimated by Schulz at 40 million [6
], which is 13–19% of the whole US population. According to the estimates of Cohen [1
] and Ramirez [22
], 30% of the adult population (90 million people) belongs to this segment in the USA. According to Schulz [6
], in Europe the number of LOHAS consumers is over 130 million, which is 18% of the population.
LOHAS is also spreading fast in Japan. According to a survey by the Japanese E-Square Inc. carried out in 2005, the LOHAS lifestyle is characteristic of almost one-third (29%) of the adult Japanese population [49
]. In New Zealand, almost 33% of the population belongs to this category [47
]. In Australia, the LOHAS market includes almost 4 million people, about one-fourth of the adult population, and they spend 12 billion Australian dollars annually [47
]. Since 2005, the LOHAS lifestyle has become widespread in China as well, and it matches the philosophy of Chinese culture in terms of Chinese people’s conception of health (healthy life), emotional well-being and sustainability [51
The new era of value orientation occurred earlier in Western than in Eastern European countries, but today the way of thinking and the values which characterize the lifestyle of LOHAS consumers have also appeared in Hungary, as is proven by the results of Hungarian research [19
]. The role and weight of research within the national economy is indicated by the fact that detailed reporting of the annual costs of research and experimental development is not only required in the supplementary appendices of annual financial statements, but the areas of research and development, and achieved and expected results also need to be covered in the business report [53
The first aim of present study was to examine which of the different factors present in the literature determine the LOHAS lifestyle. The second aim was to specify the size of the LOHAS consumer group by analyzing the sustainable value-based lifestyle. The third aim was a methodical development: the multidimensional approach is the kind of sophisticated method which can be applied in the other Eastern European countries whose social and cultural backgrounds are very similar. Consequently, this method provides a means to compare the results with each other.
The aim of the research was to specify the size of the LOHAS consumer group by analyzing the sustainable value-based lifestyle. The results revealed that in the value order of Hungarian consumers, characteristics pointing in the direction of sustainability are present, and they are divided into six value categories. These are individualist values, authentic values, environmental consciousness, ethical (competence) values, health consciousness and ethical (corporate) values. Of these value dimensions, authentic values, health and environmental consciousness, and ethical corporate behavior are especially important to Hungarian consumers. According to the research results of Lehota et al. [52
]—which were carried out among Hungarian consumers—values expressing a hybrid lifestyle appear in a similar system, but the difference is that in their case, health and environmental consciousness form one combined factor.
In international practice, the segmentation method of the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) is the most widely used approach. This method estimates the size of the LOHAS segment [14
] based on consumers’ attitudes regarding environmental and social issues, as well as their expectations towards sustainable company operations in terms of environmental protection. The different segmentation techniques do not allow for an appropriate comparison of Hungarian and foreign research results, i.e., it is impossible to draw parallels between the value-based groups introduced and the segments identified using the segmentation model of the NMI—Naturalists, Drifters, Conventionalists and Unconcerned [13
Nonetheless, it can be said that the demographic characteristics of LOHAS consumers in Hungary and the USA are similar. Women, consumers with a university degree and those with a good financial situation are overrepresented among the LOHAS. However, a difference can be found with respect to age. While in the research carried out in the US the average age of LOHAS consumers is 46.7 [14
], in Hungary a hybrid lifestyle is characteristic of the younger age group (18–39 years old). This difference is due to the fact that the era of value orientation in the developed countries started 10-15 years earlier than in the countries of Eastern Europe, including in Hungary [19
Hungarian researchers estimate the proportion of this group within the population differently, with their estimates ranging from 4% to 30% depending on the values they include in their segmentation. Based on the research results of Lehota et al. [52
], LOHAS consumers who prefer a hybrid lifestyle represent about 8% of the population in Hungary, within which the most devoted consumers constitute around 4% of the population. Based on the results of Törőcsik [19
], they make up less than 25–30% of the population; however, this proportion is expected to increase.
According to our results, five value-based segments can be separated: young trend followers (32.1%), ethical traditionalists (22.6%), young environmentally conscious people (18.6%), uninvolved elderly people (16.4%), and disappointed pessimists (10.3%). The largest cluster, the young trend followers, best reflects the characteristics of the LOHAS consumers’ lifestyle. However, this segment cannot entirely be regarded as a consumer group devoted to LOHAS values. The greatest heterogeneity can be observed on the basis of the ethical (competence) values of young trend followers, and a further segmentation of this group was considered necessary in order to ascertain the proportion of the most devoted LOHAS consumers.
Examining the values of the Welch’s F-test, it is noticeable that each sub-cluster is most sharply separated from the other on the basis of the two ethical (competence) values, i.e., the following two statements are the strongest cluster-forming variables: “I regularly support the work of charity organizations with donations” and “I do charity work annually”. As regards the low element number of the sub-clusters, the groups were not analyzed according to background variables. Based on this finding, it can be stated that within the young trend followers group, it is Sub-cluster 3 that can be described most typically with the hybrid lifestyle characteristics of LOHAS consumers. It makes up 27.1% of the young trend followers, and 8.7% of the total sample. Consequently, based on the results of our research, we can state that they also make up 8.7% of the Hungarian population as a whole.