By R. Harrison Barnes
Marketing to the LGBT community — especially considering it’s worth about $743 billion — is a win for everybody.
Over the past 20 years our country has seen a dramatic shift in its support for marriage equality in the LGBT community. In 1996 the percent of overall Americans who favored the notion was at a depressingly low 27%; since we’ve seen nationwide support of the cause steadily gain momentum across all age groups and all political affiliations, reaching a new high of 55% in May of 2014 according to Gallup.
The growing endorsement from the general public in favor of this basic right, as well as Congress’s decision to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2010, the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and the incredible 77% approval rating gay marriage has among young people between the ages of 18 and 29, have all helped create an atmosphere that supports a group of roughly 9 million people that was once widely ostracized by America’s mainstream.
So, why is any of this important for businesses or marketers? It’s simple, marketing to the LGBT community acknowledges a social group that is still fighting for their rights, while simultaneously increasing their spending power and developing them as repeat customers.
“When LGBT people are denied full participation in society because of their identities, their human rights are violated, and those violations of human rights are likely to have a harmful effect on a country’s level of economic development,” according to one study.
Consider the $743 billion market that is the LGBT community: courting them just makes sense. Businesses have the incredible opportunity to target a group that has still not met their full buying power, as well as take advantage of the incredible opportunity to generate positive brand perception — especially amongst young people who are already overwhelmingly in support of pushing for LGBT rights. Marketing to the LGBT community, when considering the response from millennials, is simply a win-win situation.
Since the late 1980s a number of companies have reached out to the ever-burgeoning market. As a lot of people can expect, some marketing campaigns have been better than others, but many have been really heart-felt and encouraging. At first, many companies only targeted the LGBT community through small community publications, however they have since started taking their efforts to a greater level – targeting the community via mass media. Here’s a list of some of Mambo’s favorites:
2010 – McDonald’s – “Come as you are.”
2012 – Chevy Volt – “Mom, Dad, I’m electric.”
2006 – Toyota – “One Thing You Can Count On.”
2007 – Levi’s – “Change.”
Although it’s depressing to see a group of people have to fight for rights that are considered unalienable to the majority, recent events make it pretty easy to remain optimistic for the future. Because the LGBT community’s economic potential has still not been fully reached, it presents a major opportunity for businesses and marketers alike to not only reach a new group of consumers, but welcome them into the marketplace while establishing a positive brand image at the same time.