To verify the activity of the company in the area of Marketing the Rainbow, I asked “Does your organization target the LGBT market? (this includes listing in the Gay Yellow Pages, membership of the LG Chamber of Commerce etc.)” I split the results between the two groups.
Some 74% of mainstream participants answered “Not as a main target, but we do consider them”, while 12% even ticked the box “Yes, mostly”.
Note: all names were retrieved via an advertisement in an LGBT publication (print or website) or sponsoring of an LGBT event. Yet 8% said “No, not really” and 2% said “Does not apply”. In other words: 10% of these companies denied targeting the gay and lesbian market.
I also approached companies that had actively worked on equal rights and diversity (often a pre-cursor to gay marketing. This group received a different set of questions, but as the population is only 24 from 11 different branches in 8 countries, no significant conclusions can be drawn.
Note: it is interesting to see how hard people try to be politically correct, even in this context. Some used the Comments box to say, for instance “stereotyping my team isn't something I do” (in case of Diversity), “We do not separate our costumers. Everyone is equal to us. So we do not judge people”, sometimes followed by something like “But I would say gay people are more kind on the phone.”
I asked “Why did you decide to target the LGBT market? (multiple answers possible)”. Most mentioned answers were “LGBT customer is affluent” (34%), “previous positive experience” (31%) and “research showed profitability” (30%). So: an assumption, followed by own experience and ‘scientific’ data (see below).
Over one quarter of companies (28%) claimed to have “products/services particularly liked by gays (while only 16% said they had “a special LGBT product/service”). Around the same percentages mentioned “trends in the market” (26%), “personal affinity and expertise” (25% - in other words: the decision maker is gay), “for ideological or political reasons” (22%).
Other reasons chosen were “LGBT customer is trendy” (19%), “we assumed it was an interesting group” (17%) .
Then followed an open question: “Can you name, from experience, a number of points in which way a gay consumer/client is different from others? (think: needs, desires, demands, consumer behaviour, decisions, loyalty, appreciation)”
Almost 200 participants (42%) answered this question. The big winner was “Loyalty” (36%): LGBT customers seem to be very brand loyal, more so than straight clients. This is also showing when they choose a company which has supported the LGBT community through sponsoring or advertising. Subsequently, 13% says gays would more easily use recommendations (giving or receiving) when choosing a brand or company. Another 13% mentions a strong feeling for the community.
Note: a study by Harris Interactive/Witeck showed:
A Pew Research Center study adds:
Many respondents also felt that gay customers are stylish, creative, have good taste, eye for detail and design, and demand quality (27%), while 16% said they want comfort, luxury and service. 7% finds them discerning.
Just under a quarter of respondents cite “more discretionary income” (23%), while 8% specify this with the qualification “dink” - 5% just says they make more money.
Some 17% feels that gays are trendy, fashionable, early adopters or progressive. To be recognized and appreciated in ads, or in shops / businesses is quoted by 15%, while the need for privacy, discretion and safety is mentioned by 7%.
Attributes like Body & Health Conscious, a Beautiful Home, More Educated, Environment Friendly, Active Lifestyle, Modern, Culture Minded are mentioned by only a few people.
If research was used, what was the source?
51% did not use research, 31% used their own, 15% used existing and 4% had research done in commission.
When asked if they were aware of any negative effects of their campaign, 10% said Yes. Most of these come down to complaints from “conservative” organizations, but the respondents were not worried about them. I guess they anticipated this in advance, and had decided that their own strategy was more important than possible collateral ‘bigotry’.
In fact, it goes even further: they are strong in their beliefs and the value(s) of the LGBT market, and do not want to do business with those who opposed those values:
It could be that the marketing leads to ‘false’ expectations:
Some resistance was internal:
The “LGBT owned and operated” businesses got a slightly different set of questions, assuming they would more easily target (just) the LGBT market: 15% only worked with LGBT customers, 37% mainly with the LGBT market, but also with mainstream customers, 27% mainly with the mainstream market and 15% only with straight clients. About 19% indicated to focus on both markets equally.
Note: the largest LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the USA, observed: “we would probably never use the word ‘mainstream’. We represent over 1,000 LGBT and "Allied" businesses... that term seems more accurate.”
The service to the “community” often is one grown from assumed loyalty, rather than a (potential) commercial success. A number of LGBT companies stated that they find the LGBT customer to be “flaky”.
When I asked “What were the reasons to establish your company? (multiple answers possible)”, I got following responses that can be divided into two groups: commercial or personal/gay related. The latter seems to be much more important than the former:
Only 26% says “commercial reasons: target group is affluent”, while 15% mentions “trends in the market”, “products/services were not (easily) available (16%) or more expensive (3%) elsewhere.”
If research was used, what was the source?
49% did not use research, 35% used their own, 14% used existing and 2% had research done in commission.
When asked if they were aware of any negative effects of their campaign, 10% said YES: