Understanding LOHAS – A SNA approach

Oliver Poseggaa , Matthäus Paul Zylkaa , Johannes Putzkea , Kai Fischbacha
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University of Cologne, Dept. of Information Systems and Inf. Mgmt.,Pohligstr. 1, 50969 Köln, Germany

Introduction Sustainability related consumer values, needs and behaviors are evolving. Climate change and sustainability, one time the worry of only a few, gradually become issues for consumers everywhere. These days, consumers are more and more conscious of the broad sustainability challenges facing the world. Social media services like Facebook, Twitter and blogs have provided consumers with a massive platform for information and interaction. Nowadays, consumers, who are using this social media services, have access to a huge amount of information about products, companies, pricing, etc. and they also are instantly aware of problems, recalls and scandals. The Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumer has been identified in a research report by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) in 2002. LOHAS consumers are extremely motivated to be active in socially responsible ways, for instance recycling and conservation. They are enthusiastic to personal and planetary health. Moreover, they are early adopters, who try to push new products into the mainstream and influence others to use the products (French & Showers, 2008). In its first annual report in 2002, the NMI estimated the LOHAS market a capacity of $209 billion worth of goods and services, which are targeted towards social welfare, social justice apart from living sustainable lifestyles. As per the NMI statistics, 19% or 41 million people of United States population are LOHAS adults (French & Showers, 2008). Always in search for simple and environmentally less harmful solutions, these people are extremely conscious about the products they use. The products don’t have to be necessarily endorsed by a popular “brand name” but they have to comply with planet earth and in all probability be endowed with health benefits. The goal of our paper is to study LOHAS consumers and their demographic and psychographic attributes, their behavior and interests, by analyzing the LOHAS community on Facebook with data mining and statistical methods. To summarize our findings, we will provide a LOHAS consumer profile archetype and compare our findings to existing papers.

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Email: Email: zylkam@uni-koeln.de Email: putzke@wim.uni-koeln.de Email: fischbach@wim.uni-koeln.de

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Methods To answer the question which attributes define a member of the LOHAS consumer segment, we focus on analyzing the LOHAS community on Facebook. Each member of the platform provides personal details (e.g. gender, age, degree of education), which are, depending on the member’s privacy settings, available for the public domain. In addition to this static profile information, users can link their profiles to other profiles and fanpages, creating friendships likes. We use this information to study the mindset and interests of the LOHAS community. The relationship between LOHAS fans and fanpages was chosen as the initial point for the data mining approach. To determine what kind of likes the LOHAS users have, despite liking the LOHAS fanpage, we primary created association rules with an association rule learner algorithm. After performing data mining and explorative analyses on fanpages and profile attributes, we develop a statistical model to predict the likelihood of a Facebook user to be a LOHAS fan. Since fanpages on Facebook reflect interests and user attributes beyond Facebook related topics (hobbies, interests, etc.), we assume that a Facebook based description of a typical LOHAS fan can be used to describe potential members of a more general LOHAS community. Understanding the relationship between a user and a fanpage as a dichotomous variable (0: user doesn’t like the fanpage, 1: user likes the fanpage), we are able to develop a statistical model to predict the likelihood of a Facebook user to be a LOHAS fan with the method of logistic regression.

Data Performing a manual research, we found several Facebook groups and fanpages, which are potentially related to LOHAS. We decided to focus on the largest explicitly LOHAS related fanpage on Facebook and all linked user profiles. The page is called LOHAS and has 3813 profiles attached to it. In addition, we selected approximately as many non-LOHAS profiles randomly from Facebook to be able to perform a statistical analysis.

Conclusion We analyzed the dynamics of the LOHAS community through a social network analysis approach and explored their demographic attributes as well as their interests. We were able to identify major characteristics of LOHAS community members, which are consistent with present theories regarding their origins. We could confirm their strong spiritual attitude, a general interest in outdoor activities like hiking, gardening and yoga.

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