The lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender consumer, commonly referred to as LGBT, is one of the most lucrative markets in the United States, yet many companies large and small find it difficult or somewhat impossibly to reach them. In the past decade, diversity outreach has mainly focused on the Hispanic and African American markets, with the LGBT demographic being vastly overlooked. However, companies who have made an effort to reach out to the LGBT market have been reaping the rewards.
As of 2018, LGBT consumer buying power was expected to reach $1 Trillion. Why wouldn’t any company like a piece of that? Well the answer is simple. They don’t know how to effectively reach the market. Before we get to some suggestions, let’s first go over some impressive facts. According to the recent Community Marketing survey, the average LGBT household income is almost double that of the general population. Being that many same-sex households do not have children, they have an incredibly higher amount of disposable income compared to straight households.
LGBT individuals are some of the first to embrace the current trends in technology, fashion and entertainment and one in four LGBT individuals has gone on a major vacation in the past year, accounting for nearly $200+ billion in tourism revenue alone. New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Las Vegas were among the most popular destinations last year, while smaller cities like New Orleans, Napa Valley, Palm Springs and Key West also fared well. Even though cost, gay friendliness and availability were factors, LGBT friendly companies having a major presence in a city, also was a key factor when choosing a destination.
With more and more LGBT adults spending their disposable income on big ticket items, the market is not one which companies should overlook. In fact, there are ways that companies can earn a piece of the ever-lucrative pie.
Gay Friendliness: Many individuals make their purchasing decisions based on a company’s gay-friendliness and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) ranking. However, the HRC only ranks larger companies, so it is important for small organizations to promote their initiatives with employees and within the neighborhoods they serve.
Support LGBT Charities and Organizations: Supporting organizations such as the GLAAD, HIV/AIDS organizations, LGBT youth initiatives or other local charities always helps win over the LGBT consumer. Many cities around the country also have LGBT chambers of commerce. If your company is primarily B2B, joining the local chamber is always a good idea as it’s the quickest and usually the most cost-effective way to reach LGBT businesses.
Speak to the market: While many companies think advertising in LGBT media would be the most effective way to reach the market, studies have shown that placing gay-friendly advertising in mainstream media is more successful. This includes television, radio, web and print advertising. When it comes to the Internet, website banner ads are most effective, followed by Facebook ads. However, targeted advertising in LGBT specific media outlets has proven to be effective depending on the product or service you are offering. Interestingly, gay African-Americans tend to refer more to local LGBT newspapers and magazines while Asian gay men and women are somewhat more likely to read LGBT blogs.
Support LGBT Political Causes: This area gets a little tricky because not all gay people are alike when it comes to their political views. Groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans and Dolphin Democrats have emerged and if your company is trying to lend its voice to politics, it would be a good idea to support an organization like this, otherwise, I would suggest supporting an HIV/AIDS charity or LGBT community center as that would speak to the mass population.
Feature LGBT spokespersons: The best example for this would be the recent Walmart partnership with Ellen DeGeneres for EV1, an exclusive clothing line available online and in 2,300 stores. The move surely increases Walmart’s image within the LGBT community as well as younger customers. It was a very wise move for a company that has not been known historically as being gay-friendly. Finding a respected spokesperson is always a good way to increase public awareness..
These are just a few ways that a company can speak to the LGBT market, although with the advance of technology, new advertising mediums are being created every day.
Joey Amato is the president of Agency33 Public Relations, a Nashville, Tennessee-based public relations and consulting firm targeting the LGBT market. Agency33 clients include gay-owned businesses and those looking to reach the LGBT community. Mr. Amato has nearly a decade of publishing and public relations experience, having worked with some of the most recognizable brands in the country in addition to cities looking to increase LGBT tourism. For more information, visit www.agency33pr.com or call 407-496-8751.