Gays and Lesbians Buy From Enlightened Employers, Marketers
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Gays and Lesbians Buy From Enlightened Employers, Marketers

Gay male and lesbian consumers are more likely to buy products from companies that treat their gay and lesbian employees well and that advertise in gay media, according to a national survey of more than 12,000 gay men and more than 10,000 lesbians.

Paul Holmes

Gay male and lesbian consumers are more likely to buy products from companies that treat their gay and lesbian employees well and that advertise in gay media, according to a national survey of more than 12,000 gay men and more than 10,000 lesbians. Community Marketing’s 2007 Gay Consumer Index and 2007 Lesbian Consumer Index reports claim to provide the most comprehensive collection of gay and lesbian consumer data to date.

“Our community has risen to the forefront among corporate marketing executives in recent years, but most campaigns have relied on a ‘shotgun’ approach to reaching various segments,” says Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing, a leader in gay and lesbian market research. “This is mainly because in-depth cross sections of gay and lesbian consumer data have not been available. These indices are a comprehensive and truly representative statistical picture of gay and lesbian consumers. They tell us who the U.S. lesbian and gay consumer is, including an unprecedented profile of the demographic and psychographic details of their motivations, issues and preferences.”

Among the specific findings:
• 80 percent of gay men and 79 percent of lesbians made a purchase with a Visa card in the past month, while 64 percent of gay men and nearly 56 percent of lesbians made a purchase with a MasterCard and 36 percent of gay men and 24 percent of lesbians made a purchase with an American Express card.
• Among gay men the top three most widely read publications are community-specific titles such as The Advocate, Out and local LGBT publications, with the New York Times, Men’s Health and GQ the top three most commonly cited “mainstream” publications.
• Among lesbians the top three most widely read publications are The Advocate, Curve and local LGBT publications, with People, AARP The Magazine and O The Oprah Magazine the top three most commonly cited “mainstream” publications.
• Among both gay men and lesbians the top three most widely watched television networks (in order) were NBC, ABC, and CBS; for gay men the next three were Fox, Bravo and Logo and for lesbians the next three were Showtime, Fox, and Logo.
• 61 percent of gay men and 83 percent of lesbians have a pet (38 percent of gay men and 59 percent of lesbians have dogs, 28 percent of gay men and 51 percent of lesbians have cats).
• 85 percent of gay men and 85 percent of lesbians said that advertising in gay media favorably influences their decision to purchase products or do business with a company.
• 89 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.
• 88 percent of gay men and 91 percent of lesbians report that their purchasing decisions are favorably influenced by corporate sponsorship of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) events and participation in LGBT charities.

CMI senior research director and survey architect Jerry McHugh says that marketers who in the past have actively targeted the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community most likely have only been reaching gay men, or half the market, with their campaigns and communications.

“Marketers and advertisers haven’t had the tools to understand that there is no single LGBT community in terms of consumer statistics. 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,” says McHugh.

Gay men and lesbian survey respondents work in a diverse variety of careers, although both groups cited the same top two career fields: medical and education. Medical work was at the top of the list with 8 percent of gay men and 15 percent of lesbians in this field. Second was education (6 percent and 9 percent, respectively) and third was accounting or finance for gay men (6 percent) and legal or government sector for lesbians (7 percent).

With regard to family life, 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, the statistic for gay men is much lower at 5 percent. 

For gay men, the median household income is $83,000 per year (gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80 percent above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, according to U.S. census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000 per year (lesbian singles $52,000; lesbian couples living together $96,000), and 36 percent of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year.

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