Research shows that the gay and lesbian market is worth cultivating, no matter what your product or service. Despite the cultural changes during the past fifty years the gay and lesbian market is still relatively untapped. According to GLINN (the Gay/Lesbian International News Network) from 1996-1998 the annual value of the gay and lesbian market was 514 billion dollars. Online research conducted by Community Marketing Inc. in San Francisco from 2001-2003 showed that gay and lesbian travel accounted for 54.1 billion in annual spending in the United States alone. This research also concluded that approximately 76% of gay and lesbian household incomes are above the national average of $40,000 per year.
The incredible “Dual Income, No Kids (DINK)” buying power of the gay and lesbian population is stirring things up in business these days. It is changing the fields of marketing and public relations, as well as economics. In light of recent gay marriage laws passed in Massachusetts and other similar laws on the table in other states, the newest financial explosion has happened within the gay and lesbian wedding industry. There are many ways gay friendly businesses can learn to speak directly to the gay and lesbian community in order to share the wealth.
Advertising to the Gay Community
A report on mygayweb.com says 78% of gay online users prefer to buy from companies that target market to the GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) community. The first and most important step is researching this target market by finding gay/lesbian newspapers, magazines, community centers, web sites, expos, or conferences. Once you decide where to advertise, maintain a strong and consistent advertising presence within the community itself. This will produce loyalty.
Gay and Lesbian consumers deeply appreciate being treated with the same respect and consideration as anyone else. Comfort in expressing their lifestyle, flexibility with products and services and creativity in your approach will form a bond of trust between a company and its’ gay and lesbian clients. A business will gain a reputation for openness to gays and lesbians and as word of mouth travels you may receive hundreds of referrals. In the gay and lesbian community, trust is an important and marketable commodity.
In order to further a bond of trust, gay and lesbian patrons expect to see gay friendly practices in action. The creation of anti-discrimination policies in the work place, involvement in AIDS education, and support of gay rights initiatives are a few examples. Honest communication is also imperative. Gay and lesbian clientele want to rest assured that, if necessary, a protocol is in place for reporting inappropriate behavior or comments from staff. They want reassurance that no matter who assists in a sale, the company provides a safe and respectful space at all times.
Symbols of the Gay Community
There are signals a gay friendly business can send out that are discreet and specific. These signals can be presented in a way that does not offend more traditional clients or draw attention to a business located in a more conservative area. An effective way to reach gay and lesbian customers is to learn the symbolism of the community. The use of a small rainbow flag or pink triangle in the form of a sticker on your window or as an icon on your web site will send a message to the gay and lesbian population of your town or city. There are a wide variety of market specific themes and images available to businesses that choose to call themselves gay friendly. If there is a gay or lesbian group in the area ask for any promotional materials they may offer, to gain a better understanding of the lingo, symbolism, and specific needs of the GLBT community.
Any Business Can Be Making More Money
Acceptance, reliability, personal attention, and excellence are qualities all consumers want in a buying experience. Gay and lesbian customers are no different than straight ones. They want all of the same services, from caterers to photographers, from flowers to cars, from cruise packages to tailors and dressmakers. Any business has the ability to reach out to this market and embrace thousands of new clients.
Including the gay and lesbian community in your marketing and PR strategy can help generate profits never before imagined. Use the positive outlook of respecting all clients and providing great service to all as a way to boost the company’s reputation and income. The gay population is a lucrative market. Learn how to speak the gay community’s language, familiarize yourself with gay community organizations, and create a gay-friendly workspace. With these steps you will be well on your way to selling your products and services to this profitable market sector.
Marianne Puechl is co-owner of RainbowWeddingNetwork.com, the first exclusive gay and lesbian wedding registry on-line. The site includes a directory of over 4,000 screened, gay-friendly businesses nationwide and in Canada. RWN was launched in 2000, and the first GLBT Wedding Expo will occur in Boston, Massachusetts on May 2, 2004.