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Posted by Brittany Zies on June 26, 2018



According to the LGBT foundation – if the global 2SLGBTQ+ community were a country, it would have the 4th largest GDP ($4.6 trillion) in the world. That’s ahead of Canada, which is ranked 10th and also the United Kingdom, rated 5th. Yet, the vast majority of businesses and marketers have not been able to effectively leverage the full magnitude of this buying power.


Going Mainstream

Daniel Saynt is an award-winning marketer, public speaker, and trend forecaster who’s remained at the forefront of social media and influencer marketing for luxury brands. As he told the LGBT Foundation – there is a history of magazines who targeted specifically gay men with fashion, beauty and luxury lifestyle brands, but as the openly gay population matured and the acceptance of marriage quality grew, the original marketing target had changed. Saynt blames this on social media, saying that “those previously ignored became more vocal, gaining larger followings on social media and with this, they demanded more attention from advertisers.” Suddenly, marketing to the 2SLGBTQ+ consumer had entered the mainstream.


The Role of Social Media

What is the role of social media and how can marketers effectively use it to tap into this demographic? For starters, online media channels such as YouTube and Instagram are giving all sorts of emerging community groups a voice, so it is important for brands to listen. The advantage now is that social media makes it easier for marketers to target niches within an already diverse population, assuming you understand this niche clearly. The challenge remains though, how can we convey a thorough understanding of the distinctions that exist within this audience to build a campaign that resonates with the consumer groups we are targeting? An age-old marketing dilemma, right?


A Changing and Complex Demographic

Jonathan-Joseph Ganjian, a Strategic Consultant and the CEO of Creekmouth Commodity, highlights the complexity of this community by stating that these consumers “in practice, are a case of minor and macroeconomic contradiction.” While that multi-billion dollar buying power might exist for some, so many people in this community also struggle with housing, job stability, volatile living situations and many are at risk of poverty with very little disposable income. So marketing to one version of an affluent gay couple will not exactly translate across much of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

As marketers, it is our job to understand how we can leverage our brand power and marketing dollars to create campaigns that not only resonate but also provide a social commentary on what it means to be a part of this changing and complex community.


What Holds Brands Back?

Coming off the cusp of the Toronto Pride Parade, it was obvious to us as marketers that a lot of brands get it. According to Saynt, in the past, proudly supporting this community may have resulted in fewer sales due to consumer boycotts, but now it is the opposite.

Check out our album of some brands we saw at Toronto Pride.

But we believe brands need to do a better job of engaging everyone in the community, not just specific parts of it. Saynt recommends “putting your money where your mouth is” and using your brand power to invest back into the community as this benefits everyone.  

While there is much to consider when targeting these groups, the biggest fear brands face is the fear of getting it wrong and facing consumer backlash that could affect the bottom line.

Who Is Getting It Right?

Honey Maid. The company ran several commercials in their “This is Wholesome” campaign featuring same-sex couples, which received lots of positive feedback. The idea was simple, that the modern family has changed over time but it remains wholesome at its core. The brand used this as an opportunity to connect with consumers while emphasizing their dedication to inclusiveness. While the response was largely positive, it didn’t resonate with everyone. Honey Maid stood by its message, which is what really makes them a winner. Instead of viewing this as a PR problem, they developed a creative response to all the hate, called “Love.” In the months following Honey Maid's diversity campaign, the company said that June/July sales for its products increased 7% YoY. A culture of diversity and inclusion was built into the company and it showed.


Source: Think with Google 

What Can We Do Better?

The 2SLGBTQ+ population is challenging the way we see the world. And while the same could be said about millennials, it is just recently that marketing to LGBT groups has become mainstream. According to Jenn Grace, LGBT Marketing expert and Ceasar M. Melgoza from the Huffington Post, there are three lessons marketers must embrace in order to understand and effectively target this community:


  • Understand how complex this community really is. Jenn noted that the biggest mistake marketers make is treating this group as a monopoly. If you are doing this, you are relying on stereotypes, most likely of affluent white men, which is not accurate. Each sub-community requires study and a personalized approach.

  • Be inclusive. The key to being successful is first understanding the “concept of inclusion and the art of intentionally including LGBT people in their mainstream marketing,” says Jenn. Smart brands know that a good strategy has a  total market approach. Rather than isolating this community by focusing on their diversity, focus on ensuring all people feel included.

  • Commit to your message. Don’t buckle to criticism. Backlash is always a possibility but being strategic with how and if you choose to respond could result in even more brand support.


This Is Not A Trend

Inclusion in marketing and advertising should exist beyond the parameters of pride month. The community has real spending power and it will only grow. This is a conversation that should be a part of mainstream marketing, but it is up to us, as marketers to consider how we can empower these communities while appreciating their collective value. For brands though, it is an opportunity to take a stand, not because it is trendy, but because it is what they believe in.

Contact us to learn more about how your brand can market to niche communities in your area.