Gay Stereotypes Dispelled
A one-size-fits-all approach to the gay and lesbian market is reducing the effectiveness of campaigns targeted to consumers based on their sexual preference. That is the finding of a recent study by New American Dimensions and the Asterix Group.
According to the study of 926 individuals online and in-person, the stereotypical young, white, urban and affluent gay and lesbian image often portrayed in the media is reflective of only a small percentage of consumers in this market segment.
Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles law school, told the San Jose Mercury News, “Gay men actually make less money than other men. And every time I say that, people say, ‘What?’ This stereotype of gay men being really wealthy – the whole ‘Will and Grace’ kind of stereotype – it’s just absolutely not true.”
Only 42 percent of gay men and 31 percent of lesbians report living in urban areas. The vast majority resides in small towns and rural areas.
About 12 percent of the study’s respondents were identified as “closeted.” Only four percent of this group reported having come out of the closet while 35 percent said they were still in. These individuals, the research found, were more likely to be Caucasian, older and live in small communities. Eighty percent of these individuals said sexual orientation was not an important part of their identity.
The polar opposite to “closeted” individuals were those identified in the study as “super gays.” About 26 percent of respondents were classified into this segment by the study’s authors. Members of this group were open about their sexual orientation and tended to be more highly educated and affluent.
Across the various segments, the study found some commonalities. For one, nearly two-thirds report having experienced stereotyping and discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation.
Christine Lehtonen, president of Asterix, told the Mercury News, “I expected to find more differences by gender, male and female. And primarily, there weren’t a ton of differences.”
Seventy percent of gay consumers were willing to spend more for products developed for companies that support their community. The two most popular methods for demonstrating that support are companies offering domestic partnership benefits (79 percent) and making donations to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) groups.
Reflecting on the study, David Morse, president of New American Dimensions, said in a press release, “We have segmented the LGBT market in all its diversity, providing a more detailed picture of the gay and lesbian customer, providing highly sought-after insights to mainstream advertisers.”
Discussion Questions: With such a diversity of lifestyles within the GLBT community is it possible to develop a single, effective marketing message to these consumers? How critical is it to zero-down to the various segments identified within this study to be truly effective? Are targeted spots necessary if companies are engaged in activities supporting GLBT individuals and causes?
- Real World Lesbians & Gays – New American Dimensions/Asterix Group
- Groundbreaking Study Explores Gay and Lesbian Opinions on Print Ads and Commercials – New American Dimensions/Asterix Group/Business Wire
- Among gays and lesbians, study finds ethnic and economic diversity – San Jose Mercury News