Promotions West

Creative Strategies for Diverse Communities

The Gay and Lesbian Market

LGBT Marketing

From Wikipedia

LGBT marketing is the act of marketing to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) customers, either with dedicated ads or general ads, or through sponsorships of LGBT organizations and events, or through the targeted use of any other element of the marketing mix.

The LGBT market comprises a large and influential group of customers to a broad range of companies, across industry segments, across many countries around the globe. In the U.S. alone, the LGBT market is estimated to be worth $660 billion (2006) in disposable income. Approximately 4% to 10% of adult populations self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, meaning between 12 million and 28 million in the United States alone. Major ad categories include travel, financial services, alcoholic beverages, automotive, entertainment, hair and skincare, luxury goods, pharmaceuticals, and fashion. For example, American Airlines have launched a specific LGBT targeted vacations website. While over fifteen years old in the United States, LGBT marketing is a relatively new marketing phenomenon elsewhere in Australia and Europe, including Belgium and the Netherlands.

LGBT marketing initiatives have not been without controversy both for and against them. Coors Brewing Company was the subject of a boycott by the LGBT community starting in 1973. The boycott was initiated by labor unions to protest the company's antagonistic practices, and was later joined by African Americans, Latinos, and the LGBT community. The LGBT community joined to protest Coors' hiring practices - polygraph tests were often required, during which the prospective employee was asked about their sexual orientation.

Coors ignored the boycott for several years, but made some concessions in 1978, and in 1995 began several countermeasures, including dropping the questions regarding homosexuality and extending domestic partnership benefits to its LGBT employees. The company also hired Mary Cheney as a marketing representative and began advertising in The Advocate and at events such as Denver's PrideFest.

Specialist LGBT marketing agencies in various countries provide specialized LGBT market services to companies seeking to target LGBT customers.

Many brands that have previously ignored the existence of this segment of society now increasingly target LGBT customers. Time magazine in August 2006 carried a Business article on growing interest amongst brand name advertisers in Europe to target LGBT customers. Likewise, a number of new brands have emerged offering products and services that appeal directly to the LGBT consumer base. Successful examples include KJ Beckett, 2(x)ist and Ginch Gonch.

The Recession is Biting, but Guess Who’s Still Spending?

WEBWIREIan Johnson, Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New European research reveals that gay consumers can offer marketers a new and steady revenue source at a time when the overall market is slowing.

High levels of gay market spending in Ireland on credit cards, internet shopping, music downloading and more are giving many marketers good reason to sit up and take notice of a multi-billion value market many have not previously considered - the gay and lesbian consumer market.

Lesbian and gay men remain relatively under-targeted and can offer suppliers of consumer goods, tourism, clothing, homewares, technology and other consumer spend categories significant new marketing opportunities.

Today’s research reveals just how much gays and lesbian consumers are spending on a broad range of consumer categories.

The research shows that gay and lesbian consumers offer marketers significant opportunities to grow their revenues during the country’s worst economic conditions in more than 20 years.

The ’Out Now GCN Readership Survey’ is the most comprehensive analysis ever of the 195,000 gays and lesbians living in Ireland.

The research shows this group earned over €8.75 billion in 2007.

Gay consumers spent in excess of €58 million on fashion last year, more than €33 million on grooming products and put a total of €16 million on their credit cards during a year of enthusiastic shopping.

Various consumer categories were tested, enabling a total value to be placed on the worth of annual gay consumer spending on a range of key consumer items.

The research was undertaken by leading global gay marketing strategy company, Out Now for GCN, Ireland’s much-loved gay glossy magazine, which reaches the grand old age of 21 next February and has a readership of 33,120.

"Gays and lesbians are obviously not immune to the effects of the general economy,” says Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now Consulting.

“But as a market grouping with much less competitive brand noise, and the positive effects on household disposable incomes of very large numbers of Double Income No Kids (DINK) consumers, the gay market makes a lot of sense for mainstream brands to target - especially at this time of recessionary fears" Johnson says.

Johnson elaborated: “This research shows that gay consumers offer a significant new market opportunity for companies in a number of consumer categories that are currently hurting because of the recession in Ireland. Brands looking to find smarter ways to allocate tight marketing budgets would do very well to assess the strategic opportunities delivered by Ireland’s 195,000 lesbian and gay consumers. Targeting this very brand-aware, extremely loyal market simply makes for smart business. That has always been the case, but this market is relevant now more than ever as marketers need to direct limited marketing budgets towards consumer target markets with the greatest disposable spend potential"

According to Brian Finnegan, Managing Editor of GCN: “A new, diverse trend has grown in advertising towards the gay community of late. While luxury lifestyle brands continue to be perceived as relevant to gay consumers, more and more everyday issues and products are targeting this market. Among those seeing the potential of the gay market at the moment are financial institutions, financial advisors, diversity employers, and also household brand names such HMV, Vodafone, Canon, Swatch and Meteor.”

For copyright reasons, any reference to this information must include the following research reference:
“Out Now GCN Gay Market Study”.

Gay Purchasing Power a Significant Force, Major Study Reveals

Syracuse, New York - October 14, 2001 — The median combined household income of gay couples is $65,000, nearly 60 percent higher than the 1999 U.S. median income of $40,800, a first-of- its-kind study reveals. Advertisers are taking notice. "We've always surmised that gay purchasing power is a force to be reckoned with," says Jeffrey Garber, founder of the project study. "What was needed was a yardstick to accurately measure the impact of gay and lesbian consumerism."

Garber, president of OpusComm Group, Inc., in conjunction with the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University and media/entertainment company GSociety, Inc., has developed the first comprehensive and in-depth census of the economics and buying habits of the gay and lesbian market.

The Internet-based census was designed to poll gay men and lesbians about their education, jobs, spending practices, and politics, and make that information available to advertisers. "Gay men and lesbians collectively are an important consumer constituency," according to Garber. "The 2001 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census will become one of the primary tools used to educate mainstream advertisers about this unique and widely ignored niche market."

A few major corporations are beginning to reap the rewards as pioneers in this market," says Syracuse University Professor Amy Falkner, expert in targeted advertising and how different groups use the Internet. "Gay and lesbian advertising is moving "out of the closet" and into the mainstream market."

Nearly 6,000 U.S. respondents completed the 40 minute long census.

The study reveals a significantly higher median income for gay households than the U.S. median. More than a fifth of respondents reported a total combined income of $100,000 or more. Nearly 60 percent of gay male households and 46 percent of lesbian households showed a combined income in excess of $60,000.

This means well-heeled gay and lesbian couples, sharing two incomes and generally without the expense of raising children (13 percent of Gay/Lesbian couples have children under 18 years of age living at home), can plan to be actively courted in the near future by industry and services anxious to open up this "new" market," says Falkner.

In findings destined to change the way advertisers cozy up to the affluent gay and lesbian market, the study reveals a strong tendency among this group to buy products or services from companies they know to be gay-friendly.

You'll be seeing many more large corporations "coming out" as friendly to gays, once they see what a positive image in the gay community can do for sales," explains Cary Gilbert, president of gay entertainment/media company GSociety, Inc. "It isn't being deceptive or devious on the company's part. Instead it's a matter of taking the opportunity to be open and positive about their policies and goals concerning the gay population. That recognizing gay clients has a positive effect on the bottom line is a side benefit -- and a compelling one."

Nearly 9 out of 10 census respondents are registered voters, and 79.8 percent of them voted in the 2000 presidential election, as compared to 49 percent of the general public who voted in the 1996 election, according to the Clerk of the U.S. Congress. The great majority -- 68.8 percent -- are registered Democrats.

Money talks, the same in politics as in business," Garber says. "As the gay and lesbian economic power base becomes more widely recognized, we are sure to see many subtle and not-so-subtle changes in the way the gay population is courted."

The Census is the combined effort of three partners:

  1. OpusComm Group Inc., (Founder of the 2001 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census Partnership)

  2. The founders of the OpusComm Group have been providing exciting and effective marketing, public relations and advertising to a broad range of clients from Fortune 500 to small businesses for over sixteen years. Now, as one of the world's leading researchers in Gay/Lesbian consumerism, we provide the strategy that can guide you through implementation with unparalleled knowledge to reach untapped markets. Our strength is in consultation with community sensitivity in the market planning and execution for all types of mainstream advertisers to target the gay/lesbian community.

  3. The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University - As one of the world's leading academic and research institutions in the field of communications, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University is leading the development of the Census.

  4. Full highlights of this study on Income, Politics, Consumer Behavior, Media habits, Relationships and other findings as well as methodology are available at

The Annual Value of the Gay and Lesbian Market
is $690 Billion

  1. Although estimates vary wildly, the U.S. gay and lesbian population is probably somewhere between 7 and 25 million.

  2. Average Household Income
    Gay Households $52,624 (41% above national average)
    Lesbian households $42,755 (26% above national average)

    Households With Income Over $100,000
    Gay households 15%
    Lesbian households 3%

    College Graduates (among people over 25)
    Gay households 62%
    Lesbian households 59%

    Hold Professional/Managerial Jobs
    Gay households 47%
    Lesbian households 40%

    The Ultimate DINK (double income, no kids) Market
    "Advertising's most elusive, yet lucrative target market."
    - Advertising Age

    Source: Overlooked Opinions, Jan '92

Gay Advertisments from Around the World

  1. - Nonprofit with worldwide LGBT marketing information, research links, and over 3500 LGBT-themed commercials and print advertising examples from 33 countries back to 1917.

According to statistics, 75% of gays take airplane trips each year — that's four times more than the national average. 
Simmons Market Research Bureau, New York