The challenge of LGBTQ marketing
One of the reasons that the LGBTQ community is seen as attractive to advertisers is that they’re perceived as being a defined demographic who are early-adopters with high-levels of discretionary spending power. A valuable niche market that can help set the trend around aspirational products and services.
But how do companies and advertisers specifically target LGBTQ people?
Research by US-based consultancy firm Witeck-Combs Communications, confirms the widely held perception of LGBTQ consumers. Their research suggests that 24% of LGBTQ adults ‘often or always like to keep up with the latest styles and trends’ versus 17% of heterosexual adults.
How does that translate into action and consumer behaviour? Simple things such as whether or not you’re likely to ask for brand names when ordering alcoholic drinks: 18% of heterosexual adults do; 27% of LGBTQ adults do.
Out Now Consulting - who specialise in the LGBTQ market - have been working on an LGBTQ global research project. The study covers a range of topics and areas including travel, consumer data, demographics, workplace issues, relationships, discrimination, and harassment. The Out Now research is comprehensive - it’s been collected in 12 languages and has developed data sets for over 20 countries around the world.
According to Out Now’s Darren Cooper:
“While the US and the UK are obvious places to start learning about LGBTQ communities, they’re not the only places where viable LGBTQ markets exist. To think that the LGBTQ populations of India, Japan or Brazil will respond and behave the same as those in the US or Germany, for example, is of course not the case, and research is the best way to understand these differences, differences that can be profound.”
Cooper is keen to point out that even within a particular geography there’s also a lot of diversity within the LGBTQ market itself.
“The perception is that LGBTQ people earn more, travel more frequently and have higher levels of education than average. This is true, but only in a very general sense. LGBTQ people come from all parts of every community, and so a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when it comes to marketing to the LGBTQ market.”
Witeck-Combs’ research has insights regarding some interesting trends for the travel industry – on average, LGBTQ consumers plan to spend USD$1,300 on a vacation, compared to the overall average of USD$1,058.
According to Bob Witeck:
“Gay households continue to show a higher propensity to travel, and dedicate a greater share of their wallet and appetite to their travel habits and needs.”
Out Now’s research also confirms that there are a higher proportion of LGBTQ households with two incomes, and without children, who travel more frequently than the average. This makes the LGBTQ market an ideal target for advertising for discretionary items and travel. However, according to Cooper:
“There are also plenty of LGBTQ people who are single, in full-time education, and also those who have children – this sector of LGBTQ parents and families has been growing fast in recent times.”
While we are seeing an increasing number of brands featuring LGBTQ people in their advertising, according to Cooper, a key driver is the social context of the market in which the brand is operating:
“Brands that can show authenticity and credibility, and show that they take this market seriously – that’s what LGBTQ consumers want now. Having equality policies is also good, making sure that they’re implemented and taken seriously is even better.”