The Gay Effect for Marketing & Advertising | V by Viacom

The Gay Effect: Are Brands Doing Enough to Reach the LGBTQ Community?

How Turning a Blind Eye Can Hurt a Brand’s Bottom Line

In the 11 years since Logo launched, same-sex marriage has been legalized nationwide, the Stonewall Inn has been named a national monument, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed and same-sex couples are now raising 4% of all adopted children in the United States. In tandem, the television landscape for gay characters has gone from marginalized cable programming aimed at primarily LGBTQ audiences—Queer as Folk, The L Word—to mainstream network TV shows like Pretty Little Liars and Grey’s Anatomy. And while there’s a clear opening in the marketplace for advertising to LGBTQ viewers, based on a study by Viacom that included the input of over 1,000 LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly voices, only 35 percent of Forbes’ top 100 brands have done so directly. So the question has to be asked: Why are so many brands still ignoring gay consumers?

The Social Change Factor

To be clear, there’s no shortage of money or influence in the LGBTQ community.  Especially when you take into consideration that there are 25 million LGBTQ-identified Americans in this country with an estimated buying power of $917 billion dollars. And the power doesn’t stop there.  When it comes to influence, the impact can also be felt by what their straight counterparts are buying too. According to the study, 90 percent of hetero-identified interviewees say they trust the recommendations of their gay friends, and 70 percent say that their gay friends are often first adopters when it comes to new products.

But for brands looking to extend their outreach, the notion of falling back on old stereotypes isn’t going to work. The key is understanding how the gay community perceives itself today, and how that both mirrors and veers away from straight consumers at the same time. Ultimately, the gay community wants to retain its own identity but is always looking for allies. In fact, LGBTQ consumers are 78 percent more likely to purchase from brands that support causes important to the LGBTQ community. But don’t assume slapping a rainbow flag on a product is going to be enough. Astute LGBTQ consumers are looking for brands that donate money to and speak out about social causes that matter to their community, like Honey Maid’s widely publicized 2014 “Love” video in response to negative comments about a gay couple featured in one of their TV ads.


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Published: Nov 04, 2016