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Why LGBT+ Representation Matters in Marketing

5 MINUTE READ | June 20, 2019

Why LGBT+ Representation Matters in Marketing

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Cynthia De La Torre

Cynthia De La Torre has written this article. More details coming soon.

June is Pride month, a month-long celebration of self-love, diversity, and acceptance honoring the LGBT+ community. Throughout the month, there are hundreds of events, including memorials and parades, that draw millions of people from across the world to celebrate inclusivity and diversity. Pride month began as a movement to commemorate the Stonewall riots in 1969, a demonstration against the police and anti-gay legal system, which is now considered the most important tipping event leading to the gay liberation movement.

Image of a pride parade in New York City, New York

And while it’s great to see brands change their logos, post content, and release rainbow-themed products during June, we believe supporting and celebrating Pride and LGBT+ communities should go well beyond one month out of the year.

As advertisers, we understand how marketing efforts are primarily tailored towards people based on certain identities and traits such as their geographic location, interests, and age range. We do this because we are consumers too, and understand that people want to purchase from brands that we can see ourselves in, and brands that represent our lifestyle. It’s because of this that we know that representing people of all backgrounds and lifestyles are not only meaningful but profitable for the companies who represent diversity correctly.

The “Pink Dollar” spending power of the LGBT+ community is one of the largest of all underrepresented or minority groups. In fact, Forbes reports that the US LGBT+ community has an estimated $1 trillion in spending power and $5 trillion globally. With around 4 to 7% of the population identifying as LGBT+ and 48% of those more likely to consider themselves “spenders” (compared to 32% of the general population), inclusive marketing efforts equate to a huge, untapped market with plenty of opportunities.

While we definitely call it progress when a brand posts a Pride month photo on Instagram, it is far more impactful when brands go beyond that. Whether it’s by donating to LGBT+ organizations or being year-round allies, there are so many unique opportunities for brands to create impactful marketing messaging that includes and represents the LGBT community.

Harry’s, for example, partnered with artist Jose Antonio Roda to create their beautifully designed Shave with Pride set. Beyond an inspirational design, what’s even better is that 100% of the profits go to the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ+ youth. Another great example of a brand going above and beyond is the Swedish-founded IKEA. Back in 1994, IKEA was the first brand to feature a gay couple in a commercial, and despite all the backlash, continued to air the ad. IKEA has also consistently earned a 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign for LGBT+ workplace equality.

Sign located in Tel Aviv,-Yafo Israel

Although you can expect a few haters from taking a stand as a company, the benefits of representing LGBT+ in advertising far outweigh the cons. In addition to this, the backlash for releasing a tone-deaf campaign can be detrimental to a brand.

After an interview with the Chick-fil-A founder that included some controversial remarks about the LGBT+ community, their approval rating index score dropped from a 65, which was well above the national average, to 39. More recently, Calvin Klein released an apology following an ad featuring Bella Hadid, a heterosexual model, kissing a virtual influencer. The advertisement was critiqued in part due to the high number of LGBT+ models that could have been used in the scene.

With consumers more likely to purchase from brands they see as diverse and inclusive, people are looking into more than just who a brand is advertising to, but also what their company stands for. Advertising to the LGBT+ community goes beyond profits as there is so much value in having a diverse and inclusive workplace and team powering those advertisements.

Having a voice and representation in the room, whether it is during marketing brainstorms or during creative and content production, is invaluable for any company or brand. A diverse room propels businesses forward by bringing in different perspectives and backgrounds, allowing marketing efforts to reach the right people with the right voice.

While it is great seeing brands step up during Pride month and support the LGBT+ community, it should be the bare minimum. More brands need to go beyond the hyper-focused messaging of just supporting Pride month and thoughtfully plan for more inclusive, LGBT+ messaging all-year round.

And to do just that, here are some resources to get you started:

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Happy Pride and we look forward to seeing your LGBT-related efforts in the months to come.

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