US LGBTQ Consumers Favor Companies That Support Equality, But Feel That Outreach Is Insufficient

July 12, 2018

Fully 85% of US LGBTQ consumers agree that corporations that support LGBTQ equality are more important than ever, and 78% agree that they tend to support companies that market to and support the LGBTQ community. That’s according to Community Marketing and Insights’ 12th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey® [download page], which found 76% of US participants agreeing that companies supporting LGBTQ equality would get more of their business this year.

Even so, the report finds that businesses are failing in their LGBTQ outreach. While vast majorities feel more positive towards companies that include LGBTQ community imagery in their outreach communications and would be more likely to support and purchase from such companies, only tiny proportions (<10%) feel that companies are doing a good job of their outreach to various such communities, including transgender/gender-expansive communities, lesbian communities, bisexual communities, and various race/ethnic LGBTQ communities.

Previous research has likewise found that LGBTQ consumers feel under-represented in advertising.

LGBTQ The Preferred Terminology, But Not For Everyone

Companies should take caution in the terms they use to refer to the LGBTQ community, as some have low favorability.

Among Millennial survey participants, “LGBTQ” (81%) has the highest level of favorability when used in corporate advertising, followed by “LGBT” (75%) and “LGBT+” (73%). Among Gen Xers “LGBT” (77%) is the most preferred terminology, while for Boomers “LGBT” (78%) is joined by “gay & lesbian community” (78%) as the preferred terms. Interestingly, the term “gay & lesbian community” has far greater appeal among Baby Boomer participants than among Millennial respondents (52%), whereas the term “queer” has double the favorability among Millennials (61%) than Boomers (31%).

The term “same gender loving” has the lowest level of favorability across each generation, while “GLBT” also has relatively low levels of favorability.

The report also notes that companies should be cautious in their use of the term “gay-friendly,” which has lower rates of favorability among youth, and should be replaced by “LGBT-friendly.”

Target Leads the Way

The study included an unaided “write-in” question, asking participants to name brands that they made a conscious decision to purchase from in the past 12 months due to their pro-LGBTQ policies of practices.

Target was the leader among all groups, written in by 29% of gay & bisexual men, 35% of lesbian & bisexual women, and 42% of gender-expansive respondents. Apple, Amazon and Starbucks also featured prominently in each group.

Data from YouGov confirms that Amazon and Target are among the brands with the best perception among LGBTQ consumers.

Advertising Conveys Policies

Finally, the study indicates that corporations need to proactively let the LGBTQ community know of their support. Respondents to the study were most likely to learn about a company’s LGBTQ-inclusive outreach, employment practices or LGBTQ-supportive political stances via ads in the LGBTQ media (49%) and through articles or news stories in the media (47%). Sponsorship of LGBTQ charity events or organizations (41%) emerged as the third-most likely way for the LGBTQ community to learn of corporate outreach or policies, just ahead of LGBTQ-inclusive ads in the mainstream media (40%).

The full report is available for download here.

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