3 Brands Successfully Marketing to LGBTQ+ Community

March 14, 2019

By Joanna Valente

Jelena Zivkovic/Getty Images

While Pride Month is celebrated each year in June, brands looking to market to the LGBTQ+ community should recognize that being inclusive isn't just about a specific time of year — it's about celebrating diversity every day. Brands are more successful when they are LGBTQ+ friendly, and when the community's influencers, language, and diversity are reflected in campaigns, marketers can work toward doing good for society and improving business outcomes. Consumers are inclined to support brands they feel understand, reflect, and respect them.

One of the most crucial elements a brand can remember is the fact that the LGBTQ+ community isn't a "one size fits all" demographic. It is diverse, and embracing difference is what sets a good marketing strategy apart. Creating consumer journeys and experiences are long-lasting ways to contribute to a friendlier, more inclusive world.

For instance, in a recent survey of consumers by INTO, Grindr's digital magazine, and market-research firm Brand Innovators, "only 15.6 percent of the more than 4,100 LGBTQ respondents said they feel very positively toward companies that roll out Pride-themed ad campaigns and then leave it at that for the rest of the year. By contrast, over 40 percent said they feel very positively toward advertisers who work LGBTQ themes into their branding regularly or continually," according to Fast Company.

Moreover, Jenn T. Grace, an LGBTQ+-identified speaker, author, podcaster, coach, and entrepreneur, best known for her podcast "Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional," told Forbes why many organizations and companies fail to successfully market to the community, stating: "Many organizations fail when they begin marketing their product or service to the LGBTQ community without doing their homework and seeing how they are perceived in the LGBTQ community from the onset. It is a very simple process to obtain information via focus groups or other types of surveys within an audience to see how to best approach the community in a way that will resonate with their needs."

In the fast-paced digital age where more and more ads and products are being personalized, consumers also expect more from brands. This attitude was reflected in a study conducted by Xandr: "Amid such heightened expectations, relevance is the currency of engagement. Ads need to offer the consumer a relevant recommendation, teach, illuminate, or introduce something they were unaware of that may improve their daily life; in short, they should be intuitive and deliver an elevated advertising experience.

When ads are relevant, consumers actually enjoy them. Consider that 91 percent of the consumers Xandr surveyed said they appreciate brands that do anything to make their day easier. Another 77 percent said that the best brands improve their lives in ways they didn't know they could… with 68 percent of people reporting that they usually spend most of their free time engaging with content."

In addition, the study stated that "82 percent seek it out because of an emotional connection, 76 percent said content enriches and enhances their lives, and 72 percent said their day wouldn't be complete without it." How can brands do this?

Allocating influencer marketing dollars to a more diverse community can help establish prioritizing different people and lifestyles as the norm.

When it comes to establishing good business practices, the LGBTQ+ market commands $5 trillion in the global market and $965 billion in the U.S. market, so it only makes sense for marketers to be inclusive of this demographic. Consumers want to see themselves and people they care about reflected in the products and advertisements, and only brands doing this will survive. Below are three companies succeeding at creating a more inclusive world for the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Verizon

In honor of Pride Month in 2018, Verizon released an ad celebrating both members of the LGBTQ+ community who came out to their parents — and the mothers and fathers who support them. Verizon realized that coming out to a parent is a huge moment in a person's life and relationship — and one that shouldn't be glossed over. To encourage familial support, the brand created an ad using videos of LGBTQ+ people coming out to their parents over the phone — illustrating how a phone call may change a life and nurture connections with loved ones.

In this 60-minute spot, LGBTQ people come out to their loved ones using smartphones, illustrating how a phone call may change a life and nurture connections with loved ones. Verizon/YouTube

 

PFLAG Canada

As with many marginalized groups, the global LGBTQ+ community has been engaged in a long and ongoing struggle for equality. These inequalities play out across a country's laws, rights, and cultural landscape. For example, marriage equality, adoption, blood donation, military service rights, and gender assignment on government documentation can have a profound impact on a person's life — and when these laws don't protect LGBTQ+ people, not everyone is given the same opportunities.

As a peer-to-peer not-for-profit supporting the LGBTQ+ community, PFLAG Canada wanted to highlight these inequalities, national and global, especially for LGBTQ+ travelers who can be penalized in various countries for simply being who they are. That's why PFLAG Canada created DestinationPride.org — a data-driven mobile search platform that reimagines the Pride flag as a dynamic bar graph, then uses it to visualize the world's LGBTQ+ laws, rights, and social sentiment. Users were able to search any town, city, province, state or country on earth. PFLAG Canada's algorithm then calculates six key measures of acceptance, such as marriage equality, sexual activity law, gender identity protections, anti-discrimination laws, civil rights and liberties, and social media sentiment.

In addition, more than 100 geographically individualized Facebook ad campaigns targeted people who were interested in LGBTQ+ topics, groups, and events, and showed interest in travel. Ads ran in local languages, were contextual to local current events, and sparked conversation with public figures like musicians Tegan and Sara to politician Sandra Jansen. The flag visualizations were also included in the London Design Museum's retrospective on graphic design and political messaging, an exhibit called "Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18," which ran until August 12, 2018.

 

Mastercard

The Mastercard brand is built around the central belief that everyone, everywhere, deserves to live a richer life and to be accepted for who they are. To be inclusive and show support to the LGBTQ+ community, Mastercard responded to North Carolina's proposed the "bathroom bill" in 2016 Mastercard with its campaign "Restroom for All." The campaign, which won the 2017 ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards Best in Show, brought Mastercard consumers together in a worldwide message of love and acceptance.

Mastercard wanted to do more to help the transgender community, so it created an inclusive bathroom at NYC Pride in 2016. To get into the bathroom, all someone needed was a heartbeat. By creating a gender-neutral bathroom, the company illustrated that all humans are the same and have the same needs — and that LGBTQIA+-identified people should have the same rights as cisgender people.

Besides illustrating that all people, despite their differences, are all the same, Mastercard's learned that there are intangible possibilities that come with a credit card purchase. Separating the emotional value from the financial transaction allows Mastercard to build an emotional connection around "Priceless" possibilities, and also provided LGBTQ cardholders' loyalty by giving the segment unique rewards beyond the ones they automatically get when they sign up for the card, like assistance with a marriage proposal.


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