Here’s some breaking news for advertisers hoping to win the loyalty of gay customers and our coveted pink dollars: The best way to appeal to LGBTQ consumers is … to appeal to LGBTQ consumers.
Let us explain.
In 2017, Hornet commissioned Nielsen to study how consumers respond to advertisements featuring LGBTQ representation. The results were stunningly conclusive: respondents had greater brand recall, affinity, purchase intent and recommendation intent when viewing LGBTQ-themed advertising than those who saw generic ads.
Furthermore, according to the study, “Over 60% of respondents exposed to the LGBTQ-themed ads agreed that the brands advertised were ‘Progressive’ and ‘Inclusive’ compared to just 56% and 55% of those exposed to the generic advertising.” Ad recall of the LGBTQ ads was 68%, which is 28% higher than ad recall for the generic ads, and recommendation intent was a staggering 60% higher for LGBTQ-themed ads.
Just as crucially, the surveyed group reported a 17% increase in intent to buy with LGBTQ ads, while generic ads garnered only a 13% increase. (See the full study here.)
These results held up across numerous products, from vodka to insurance, and were dramatically illustrated by Adweek in a colorful infographic.
The respondents in the Nielsen study represent exactly the kind of customer that brands hope to woo — LGBTQ-identified American men between the ages of 18 and 54. These men overwhelmingly described themselves as being willing to pay more for premium products, and as being eager to recommend products they like to family and friends.
So to be clear, LGBTQ-themed advertisements make this prized demographic of LGBTQ consumers more likely to remember a product, think positively about a product, purchase a product and recommend it to their entire brunch group.
For Hornet, these results are exciting because they offer numerical proof of a truth most LGBTQ consumers (and queer people in general) implicitly understand — that representation is an incredibly powerful way to drive attitudes and behaviors.
Convincing brands of this truth is often a challenge, with many worrying that they will come off as pandering to queer customers. The answer to this concern is to be careful and conscientious, and preferably to have LGBTQ-identified people on board when creating advertisements that directly market to our community.
Other brands worry about alienating conservative groups if they are too “political,” but we must continually challenge any company that lists inclusivity and progressiveness as values to have the courage to stand behind them, and to court consumers who actually share them.
This doesn’t just mean LGBTQ consumers, but the huge numbers of allies, friends and family who also respond well to positive representation. The ranks of these supportive people are only continuing to grow, while those put off by gay-themed advertising will continue to shrink, and that’s a trend that any forward-thinking brand should want to be a part of.
Especially in the age of hyper-targeted internet advertising, there’s no excuse for high-profile brands not to craft messaging for LGBTQ consumers and LGBTQ spaces. This can create relationships that are beneficial to everyone, with queer customers buying products that align with their values, and advertising dollars being spent on community-owned sites.
As this study confirms, queer customers are eager to give their loyalty and patronage to brands that speak directly to them. So it’s time for major brands to embrace the rainbow if they want the pot of gold.
Featured image by Peopleimages via iStock