Gay/Lesbian Consumer Study Offers Insights

Discussion
Aug 23, 2007

By Tom Ryan

A new survey of gay men and lesbians confirmed some long-held beliefs regarding the demographic (i.e., they’re much wealthier than most Americans and extremely loyal to gay issues). But the survey also found much diversity among its members.

Based on interviews with more than 12,000 gay men and 10,000 lesbians across the country, San Francisco’s Community Marketing Inc. claims the survey provides the most comprehensive view yet into psychographic and demographic data on the gay community.

For instance, with regard to family life, the survey found 46 percent of gay men and 65 percent of lesbians are partnered or live with a significant other. While 20 percent of lesbians have children under the age of 18 living at home, only five percent of gay men do.

For gay men, the median household income is $83,000 per year (gay singles, $62,000; gay couples living together, $130,000). For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000 per year (lesbian singles $52,000; lesbian couples living together $96,000).

Regarding media choices, gay and lesbian publications were read most often by both genders, although national “mainstream” publications also fared well. Favorites were The New York Times, Men’s Health and GQ among gay men, and People, AARP The Magazine and O The Oprah among lesbians. The top three most watched television networks for both genders were NBC, ABC, and CBS. For gay men, the next three were Fox, Bravo and Logo; for lesbians, Showtime, Fox, and Logo.

The survey also touched on career choices, home ownership and pet ownership, among other issues.

While some of these findings appear to somewhat reflect the average American household, the survey found that both groups strongly support gay issues with their purchasing dollars:

  • Eighty-five percent of gay men and 85 percent of lesbians agreed advertising
    in gay media favourably influences their purchasing decisions;
  • Eight-nine
    percent of gay men and 92 percent of lesbians reported that the way a company
    treats its gay and lesbian employees impacts their decision to do business
    with that company, with the majority (52 percent and 59 percent respectively)
    saying this was strongly positive;
  • Eighty-eight percent of gay men and 91
    percent of lesbians report that their purchasing decisions are favourably
    influenced by corporate sponsorship of gay events and participation in gay
    charities.

Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing, said many campaigns targeting
gays and lesbians have used a “shotgun approach to reaching various segments” because
in-depth cross sections of gay and lesbian consumer data have not been available.

Community Marketing senior research director Jerry McHugh believes marketers
targeting the gay community most likely have only been reaching gay men, or
half the market.

“Marketers and advertisers haven’t had the tools to understand
that there is no single LGBT community in terms of consumer statistics,” said
Mr. McHugh. “It is a diverse melting pot of people who cannot be reached with
one type of campaign or communications channel for any targeted communications
efforts from advertising to sponsorships.”

Discussion Questions: Is there a need for more psychographic and demographic consumer data on the gay community to better market to various segments of this consumer market? Will having insights from this data appreciably change the success brands and banners have in marketing to this consumer group? Is it necessary, for example, to shift dollars to gay media outlets or use images that reflect same-gender sexual orientation to fully realize the sales potential of this market?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Gay/Lesbian Consumer Study Offers Insights"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Liz Crawford
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

I love to see real stats replace stereotypes and myths–regardless of segment.

Further, just as a personal preference, I am thrilled to see secular segmentation rather than religious segmentation (Islamics, etc).

Robert Immel
Guest
Robert Immel
14 years 8 months ago

Well, as a gay man, I will tell you I notice which companies advertise in magazines such as Advocate. While I might not rush out and buy the product, it sticks in the back of my mind. However, price and customer service still are deciding factors. By the same token, companies that bow to pressure from the “moral majority” I will remember (in an unfavorable position) and will avoid them.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 8 months ago

I echo Lee’s comments: Why wouldn’t we do more research? Consumers can be aggregated into an arbitrary number of groupings based on any number of criteria. The trick is to find groupings that have significance and can form the basis for a marketing strategy or tactic. If it turns out that a consumer that can be identified as GLBT can be marketed to in a distinct way, that’s good to know. If there are subgroupings that have significance, let’s find that out, and let’s find out whether being gay and, say, outdoorsy is different than being straight and outdoorsy (from a consumer behavior perspective). Maybe yes, maybe no; choose your marketing tactics accordingly.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
14 years 8 months ago

I don’t want to sound too simplistic, but if you have a strong brand, and a great product, you should focus on selling to people, not demographics. Do this and your product will have a much greater opportunity for success.

Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Take the words gay or homosexual out of the equation? Sure. But replace it with the affluence of the same demographics and the survey would likely be the same.

This isn’t a demographic, it’s meddling in social issues where brands, companies and services don’t belong if you expect to serve ALL customers.

Joel Warady has it about right. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as we often make it out to be.

Steven Roelofs
Guest
Steven Roelofs
14 years 8 months ago

At age 46, I feel most GLBT publications are too youth-oriented and irrelevant to my life. However, what really catches my eye is a company like IKEA that places an ad with a seemingly gay couple in the mainstream press. This says to me that not only does IKEA recognize me as a customer, but also it acknowledges to other customers that I exist and shop at IKEA for the same reasons they do.

Lee Peterson
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

I find it interesting that we’re even discussing this topic in that; of course the Gay community is diverse, of course we could learn more from further research and of course, if we respond appropriately, we’ll create more profits. Why would the fundamentals of marketing be any different for this segment?

Better question may be; with that demographic, what took us so long?

Aaron Spann
Guest
Aaron Spann
14 years 8 months ago

I read the HRC Corporate Equality Index every year and look for the companies that score very low and avoid them.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
14 years 8 months ago
As a woman I have long–I mean looooong–been irritated and sometimes angry to see simplistic articles, white papers, marketing plans or political campaigns targeting “women” or “women’s issues” or the “women’s vote.” How ridiculous. How insulting. Just a look around any business environment, shopping mall, or family reunion shows clearly there is no such thing as generic “women.” We are diverse in terms of age, race, where we live geographically, socio-economic place, education, sexual orientation, family make-up, religion…on and on. Recent conversations I have had with friends and acquaintances who are gay have revealed some of the same frustrations from them– of feeling they are being stereotyped, all being lumped together, when in fact the needs and views of two gay bankers living together in Atlanta are often quite different from two actors living together in Chicago. (Don’t mean to be stereotyping here!) For a brand to advertise in publications with a certain known demographic (such as Ladies Home Journal, Field and Stream, or The Advocate) shows acknowledgment and respect. But to attempt to target… Read more »
Bonny Baldwin
Guest
Bonny Baldwin
14 years 8 months ago

It makes me really happy to see this discussion. For GLBT is just one aspect of who someone is! Within that grouping you’ll find parents, singles, couples, Boomers, liberals, conservatives, urban, suburban, people who eat food, etc….Respect and acknowledgment feel good, and this doesn’t have to mean that the person in the ad looks just like you. Most of us don’t get that experience!

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Just remove the words “gay community” from this discussion and replace it with white, black, redneck site location consultants, or whatever and then ask the same question. There is always something new to learn and apply from psychographic and demographic consumer data.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Subaru sells only 200,000 cars a year. So its advertising domination (in the auto category) of Logo makes sense. Subaru doesn’t have the budget to dominate wider-interest media. Some brands with major market share in their categories (Budweiser, American Airlines, Prudential) are happy to gain 1% to 3% market share increases, so advertising to minority groups makes sense for them, too. And the days of successful angry backlash (threatened boycotts, letter writing campaigns, etc.) seem to be long gone. There may be some backlash, but it doesn’t seem to have impact.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Is the preference that gay consumers show for companies that support gay media and issues reason enough for marketers to shift dollars from mainstream media?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...