Creative Investing


Here is some great food (drink actually) for thought about trends that can help your international business and international investing at this November 5, 2004 Gary Scott message.

Recent messages have looked at a growing subculture called the Cultural Creatives in a book of the same name by Paul Ray. We have also looked at what the growing market of LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) buyers.

Knowing who and what these growing groups of buyers and investors are can have a dramatic impact on your investments and business so this note below from an alert reader can really help our thinking:

“Gary, I spoke to a researcher at Natural Marketing Institute and she mentioned that Paul Ray's research ended in 1996. As far as she knows, no one has continued tracking this trend.

"I did a linear extrapolation of the two data points — 1965: no Cultural Creatives; 1996: 50 million. If Cultural Creatives segment continued on a linear growth path, their numbers in 2004 would total approximately 33-35% of the adult population. Of course, this is not in any way scientific and is not a sound way to project a trend. And I'm making the modest assumption that moderns continue to be fed up with the rat race and switch to more meaningful lives (Cultural Creatives). However, I don't think these assumptions are unreasonable.

"LOHAS researchers say that LOHAS and Cultural Creatives are different ways to measure different things that overlap significantly, but they are still completely different things that are being measured.

"My understanding is that LOHAS data shows modest growth over this same period, which might infer that the Cultural Creatives segment is not growing that much. Personally, I purchase LOHAS products and services when I can and when they are priced reasonably, and use 'normal' stuff at other times. In other words, I'm a cultural Creative, but I don't always purchase LOHAS products and services. And my consumption of LOHAS products and services has not increased over the last 10 years. In some cases decreased. Bottom line: I think Cultural Creatives are a much larger segment of the population than the 50 million mentioned in the book.

If you have any additional insights, please pass them along.”

I have heard more. There is another book by Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class. This 2002 best-seller received The Washington Monthly's Political Book Award for that year and was later named by Harvard Business Review as one of the top breakthrough ideas of 2004. This work is about the creative class.. Details are at http:/www.creativeclass.org

I am ordering myself and will report anything worthwhile I read.

Second look back at my messages about how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs causes markets to develop. Go to http://www.garyascott.com/archives/2003/10/08/919/

Think about this and you’ll see that it is logical to assume that the richer the world grows the more CCs or Lohas buyers there will be.

In short we have to have words to define what we think we know. This is a shame because the word tends to paint a huge number of very unique individuals the same color. The reality is we have hundreds of millions of unique individuals we call the same thing.

To spot trends what we are trying to do is identify common traits that these large groups might share. So all of us may be called Cultural Creatives, but in reality we are part CC, part Lohas, part Modern, part Traditional. Yet to know what many of us do that is common and can be translated into the business and investing market place in common is our goal.

For example it was found that the Cultural Creative likes to see the whole picture. For example when Moderns go out for a cup of coffee they want the best coffee, served in the fastest, most convenient way. The CC wants to know more. Where was this grown, what type of coffee? What did the growing process do to the environment? How were the processors and growers of the coffee treated? What will the coffee do to the body and environment? Was the cup organic? Is the cup recycled and so forth?

We can see how this is affecting the market place in a recent Reuters news release titled, Starbucks Seeks More Socially Responsible Coffee.

This article said that Starbucks has launched an aggressive plan to ensure that its coffee comes from environmentally friendly farms paying workers a fair wage.

They are setting up strict rules on everything from forestation to pesticides to labor practices.

Starbucks made this move because they have suffered bad publicity most likely from the more vociferous end of the Cultural creative subculture. A UK charity Oxfam hurt Starbuck’s British business in such a way and Starbucks buckled in and entered into a partnership with Oxfam to work on a rural development program in a coffee-growing region of Ethiopia.

This is how this growing subculture can affect your investing and business. Regardless of the name, CC, Lohas or whatever, the element these people have in common is that they:

*See a bigger picture.
*Consume and invest in values not just material value.
*See connections.
*Are highly sensitive to being mislead.
*Are willing to pay a bit more for a whole product.
*Want authenticity.
*Are getting organized.

The same Reuters article mentioned above stated: “Protesters have targeted global companies like Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and McDonald's Corp., charging them with squeezing out local businesses and exploiting workers. “

McDonald's has been affected over some the fishing practices of suppliers that could mean fish population will not survive over time.

Learn to understand what all this might mean, because these buyers are more than statistics. They are people and the way they live will continue to blur the distinction between customers, workers, investors and management. They are the growing future!

Until next message, good investing.

Gary


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