A new report from Grindr-owned media outlet Into shows a significant disconnect and missed opportunities for brands to effectively, consistently, and authentically engage with the LGBTQ community. Though marketers say that they wish to be perceived as inclusive and progressive, the results of the study done by Into and Brand Innovators show otherwise.
Around a third of brand marketers (32%) do not include the LGBTQ community in media plans, and around the same percentage evaluates their plans on a case-by-case basis. 14% said that they primarily speak to the audience during Pride Month/Pride Week each June while 12.6% include LGBTQ in media planning throughout the year.
“We’re coming up to Pride season right now and if you talk about literally the bare minimum you can do, it's to 'be there,' support this community and be visible during Pride Month,” said Michelle Tobin, vice president of brand partnerships and advertising at Grindr and Into on the Brand Innovator stage at SXSW. “But honestly, I find the bare minimum pretty frustrating, when brands just slap a rainbow on their bottle or wave a rainbow flag during pride, and then call it a day, [or feel they] checked that box. Because surprise, surprise, people are gay all year round and continue to need to buy laundry detergent, and diapers, and clothing, and cars.”
Indeed, the cumulative aggregated annual spending power of the global LGBTQ community, according to LGBT Capital, is estimated at more than $5 trillion. Into, which in its first month had over 4m unique visitors, has become the number-one LGBTQ site in the world within six months and has tapped into the global pulse of the community.
“As a gay consumer, when I'm not at work I can go to the grocery store, I can go to the pharmacy, and I buy toilet paper, I buy toothpaste, and I look at an advertisement that has someone that doesn't look like me, and I'm still going to buy it,” said Zach Stafford, editor in chief of Into. “But if I see one brand that has someone that looks like me, either interracial or gay, I'm buying it immediately.”
This is an insight shared by a significant portion of the community: half of LGBTQ consumers are more likely to perceive brands as LGBTQ-friendly if they advertise to media outlets that they read. 44% of consumers have a more positive perception of the brand if they cater to them. The findings were crucial to Tobin, Stafford and team, who looked to attract brands in a way that parent company Grindr couldn’t.
“Very often when we go talk to brands,” Tobin said, “we'll talk to the head of marketing, we'll talk to the head of multicultural marketing, we'll talk to agencies, and a lot of times when I ask them who handles LGBTQ initiatives at your company, I get 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check into that,' or, ‘Occasionally, I handle that.' But I think in the research it shows that the vast majority of brands have no one allocated or dedicated to this audience at all.”
True connection is deeper than the rainbow
For marketers, that disconnect is most evident when talking to millennial consumers, for which over 20% of that audience identifies as LGBTQ. “That’s not a tiny audience,” Tobin noted, “and given how advertisers are frantic about reaching millennials, it’s always curious to me how many brands that I speak to that make no effort whatsoever in reaching our communities.” In the study, it was noted that marketing spend for the overall millennial demographic has increased “significantly” by about 16%, whereas the LGBTQ demo has only seen an increase of 3.9%