More than 300 leaders from the natural, nutritional, organic and sustainable products industries gathered June 20-22 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colo., for the Fifth Annual Natural Business Market Trends Conference. The conference's educational seminars, exhibits and company tours focused on the growing $230 billion "Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability" market, including natural and organic products, renewable energy, alternative transportation, complementary medicine, personal growth, recycled products and socially responsible investing.
Sociologist and author Paul Ray spoke about "cultural creatives," the consumers who are purchasing LOHAS products. According to Ray, about 50 million Americans, or 26 percent of the adult population, "shop with their values." Cultural creative consumers are health conscious, socially and environmentally responsible and choose to purchase products from companies that share their beliefs. Ray, who is the author of The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (Harmony Books, 2000), also offered attendees tips for implementing LOHAS strategies in the marketplace.
Other speakers included Maria Rodale, of Rodale Press, publisher of Organic Gardening since 1942, who talked about launching Organic Style magazine; Gary Hirshberg, president and CEO, Stonyfield Farm, spoke about how natural products companies can maintain values in the current climate of consolidation; Amy Domini of Domini Social Investments offered organizations help in attracting socially conscious investors; and Dennis Weaver, actor and founder of the Institute of Ecolonomics discussed the innovative possibilities that could develop with a move to a sustainable economy.
LOHAS industry innovators, including Domini, Hirshberg, Ray and L. Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, were recognized with the 2001 Leadership in Business award, presented by Natural Business Communications, host of the conference. "These individuals exemplify true leadership in the products they have created and marketed; in their employee practices; in their roles in the business community; and, most importantly, in their personal convictions," said Steven Hoffman, managing partner, Natural Business Communications of Boulder, Colo.
Another highlight of the conference was the new industry open house tours of local Boulder naturals businesses and organizations such as Celestial Seasonings, OmegaTech, Allegro Coffee, Third Street Chai and the Herb Research Foundation. "One of the reasons we moved our conference to the Boulder area [previously it had been held in Berkeley, Calif.] was because we really believe that it is an epicenter or a Silicon Valley for the natural and sustainable products movement," said Hoffman. "By organizing these open house tours, we were able to work with about a dozen companies to showcase their leadership and involvement in the natural products sector."
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXII/number 8/p. 12