Marketing and Advertising to the LGBTQ Community
The LGBTQ community is a diverse and vibrant melting pot that includes thousands of different types of people. That’s why K2 Analytics Digital Marketing strongly believes that every marketing strategy needs a foundation of inclusion and diversity. It can be easy to make assumptions about what motivates this community to open their wallets and purchase products. Still, marketers need to understand consumer behavior instead of making generalized statements based on stereotypes. At the end of this blog, we hope that you’ve gained an eye-opening point of view and learned how to market to the LGBTQ community!
So… how do you market to the LGBTQ community? Let’s talk about it!
Understand Who They Are
Start by knowing who they are and how their buying patterns differ from others. It’s estimated that there are over 20 million members of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community currently living in America. Not only is this a substantial population with its own unique needs – but it’s also one of the largest and fastest-growing communities in the nation.
The LGBTQ+ community can include people who might identify as one of the following:
• Lesbians: Two women in a romantic or sexual relationship.
• Bisexuals: Individuals attracted to both men and women to varying degrees, whether it’s equally or one over the other. They may also identify as pansexual or queer.
• Gay Men: Attracted only to people of the same gender (males). Some who prefer this term feel their identity is more closely associated with culture than sex. In contrast, others strongly prefer this term because they view themselves as not transgender or bi and see themselves exclusively as gay men. Not too long ago, gay men were generalized as a part of the LGBTQ community. Still, studies have shown that gay men typically have a different culture than lesbians or bisexuals in more recent decades.
• Transgender/Trans: Those individuals whose gender identity does not match the sex assigned at birth. This category includes people who identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth, have undergone surgery, or have had hormonal therapy to change their body to be perceived as being part of the opposite sex.
• Non-Binary: Non-Binary individuals do not identify with traditional definitions of male and female genders. This market segment essentially covers those who have a gender that is not categorized as male or female.
• Queer: An umbrella term sometimes used by younger LGBTQ+ people, particularly on college campuses. Although some may feel this term fits them perfectly, others find it offensive since it has also been used as a derogatory term in the past.
• Intersex: A person born with biological characteristics that aren’t exclusively male or female due to genetic or hormonal variations. Parents and physicians usually assign the sex of the child, but it isn’t uncommon for intersex individuals to identify with a different gender than the one that was chosen for them.
• Asexual: The lack of sexual attraction toward anyone/thing; some individuals do not experience primary sexual attraction at all, while others still enjoy having romantic relationships, even though they don’t feel the desire to engage in sexual activity.
It’s crucial to note that these identities can have different meanings for different individuals and cultures. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, so you need to familiarize yourself with the differences in the LGBTQ community and their needs/lifestyles. You can do this by reading articles, talking to people within this community (individuals or organizations dedicated to helping queer people), or taking a college course that focuses on LGBTQ+ culture/history.
Define The Buyer Persona
The LGBTQ community is a marketing goldmine, but many marketers still struggle with reaching this audience. However, with an annual buying power of $3.7 TRILLION, the LGBT+ community isn’t a segment of the population that can be ignored. They’re your neighbors, your “average” customers, and more importantly, they’re one of the world’s most powerful market forces.
Data found that the LGBTQ+ segment was better educated and had a higher average income than the general population. People within this group also demonstrated a more sophisticated approach to product ownership. Everything from mainstream brands to niche or even non-profit organizations can appeal to this diverse community. Every business MUST adjust its digital marketing efforts to include an emphasis on inclusiveness and diversity.
Here are a few examples to think about when appealing to the LGBTQ+ crowd:
This is one of the most popular outlets for people within this community to express themselves, so you must take their sense of fashion seriously. Whether it’s casual or formal wear, make sure you stock clothing of every type (including underwear and shoes) in all sizes (not just one size fits all; some prefer form-fitting clothes while others like things looser). Some brands even offer unisex styles to appeal to the community of people looking for something that can’t be categorized as male or female.
Women who do not identify as cis-gendered may be perceived as coming off as less feminine, but they still may want to maintain their femininity in other ways. Makeup and fragrances are a great way to do this! As an example, a retail store can expand its inventory to include a wide variety of cosmetics for men and women available in stores with knowledgeable associates that can help shoppers find the most suitable products.
A large percentage of the LGBTQ+ community enjoys going on vacation, just like everyone else! Unfortunately, some destinations and locations still aren’t accepting towards people of this community, so researching which venues have been praised by LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the country/world pays off. It’s essential to be educated in the difficulties that this community faces so that you can show solidarity as an ally.
• Store Design
It’s no secret that this community often has a great sense of taste, especially when it comes to knowing what looks good – and what doesn’t. Invest in high-quality furniture and store fixtures to appeal to the customers that have a strong sense of style. This will help them resonate with your company and feel like the environment you’ve created is one they can be part of.
Make Your Brand Welcoming for All
Although it’s true that advertisements can influence consumers at times, especially those designed to target members of marginalized groups such as people of color, it’s important to make sure that your marketing message is well received by everyone and doesn’t single anyone out or even worse – insult them. Failing to have the right brand messaging and voice could result in irreparable damage to a businesses’ brand identity.
As consumers, people want businesses to acknowledge their existence, give them a kind face behind the brand/company logo/name, offer unique incentives so they’ll feel welcome shopping there, and ultimately to feel safe that their hard-earned money is going to support a business that supports THEM.
As a business, you want as many people as possible to see your signs and advertisements. If your marketing campaign ignores or points fingers at members of the LGBTQ+ community, you’ll lose out on revenue from those customers who would be willing to spend their money with you but will instead shop somewhere else because they don’t see themselves reflected in your marketing material.
Marketing With an Open Mind
If you truly want to attract more customers, especially those living within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, you have to remember that it’s important for businesses to keep their minds open towards people who are different than them without making assumptions about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, genderqueer, etc. There is no one way of being queer; individuals express themselves differently, so it’s important to realize that not everyone wants the same thing from your brand.
The more welcoming you are towards all customers, the greater chance you have at gaining loyal customers who are willing to spend their hard-earned money with your establishment. If you don’t, they might take their business elsewhere.