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Marketing to the LGBTQ+ Community

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 How can I reach the LGBTQ+ community in a meaningful way?

Reaching any audience authentically is always going to be a challenge in a fast-paced environment. For LGBTQ+ consumers, this is especially crucial — as this demographic has been historically underrepresented (if at all) and/or stereotyped in mainstream media. 

Of course, many brands have positive intentions when marketing to the LGBTQ+ community, but may have concerns about creating meaningful ads and conversations; ANA's latest LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Report addressed this, citing several concerns, which are "navigating brand-safe environments (39 percent) and consumer resistance (39 percent)," as well as the fact that only 34 percent of marketers "include LGBTQ+-targeted media in their marketing."

The report went on to say that "a majority (64 percent) of respondents do not use a specialized agency for their LGBTQ+ marketing. Of those who do, we asked if their agency was a certified LGBT-owned agency, and 75 percent of respondents indicated they were." Creating and fostering inclusive messaging isn't just about the external ads, but starts with internal work as well, whether with LGBTQ+ partners, influencers, and internal employees to understand trends — and thus, create compelling, authentic, and sincere discourse. 

This demographic, according to the report, comprises of approximately 7.2 percent of U.S. adults, and 17 percent of adults under 30 identify as LGBTQ+; further, the spending power of this group was "estimated to exceed $1.4 trillion" in 2021, which is similar to "other significant minority segments in the U.S., such as Hispanic American, African American, and AAPI." These numbers reflect the very need to better understand this demographic, which includes their musts and wants. This can be done through strategic research, hiring and retention, and partnership practices, as well as creating education and support systems.

The report included recommendations, stating that companies need to  "transcend marketing campaigns. It necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing pronounced support for LGBTQ+ rights, thoughtful media selection, and fostering an inclusive corporate culture. For instance, the pronounced use of personal pronouns and the support of LGBTQ+ employee resource groups are steps toward creating a nurturing workplace. Yet, the survey also reveals a concerning trend of perceived support erosion, highlighting the need for sustained and genuine efforts in supporting the LGBTQ+ community."

Further, AIMM stressed the importance being truly inclusive at every level, identifying several significant challenges and subsequent actions to combat them as a way to foster inclusivity dynamically and authentically:

    • Investment for the long-term ("investing in diverse segments should not be reactive or intermittent")
    • Action and mainstreaming ("this means breaking old habits, seeing new possibilities")
    • Metrics and measurement ("work with research partners and sources which are
      well-versed in cultural specifics across segments")

Rob Smith, founder of and CEO at Phluid, succinctly put it best at an ANA event, stating simply, "It's about actions, not ads."

Below are resources on LGBTQ+ consumers below. For more information on LGBTQ+ in advertising, marketers can visit AIMMANA's DEIB hub, or ANA's Supplier Diversity page.

Best Practices and Trends 

  • LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Survey Unveils Transformative Insights. ANA, March 2024.
    This LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Survey offers a comprehensive view into the state of LGBTQ+ inclusion in advertising. With 55 percent of advertisers engaging in LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing, the survey and report highlight a significant shift towards inclusivity. This approach has led to a 97 percent acknowledgment among advertisers of the positive impact inclusivity has on brand perception. However, the journey to fully inclusive advertising faces challenges. Navigating brand-safe environments and addressing consumer resistance are notable concerns. Sample finding:

  • Best Practices for LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion: Internally and Externally. ANA, April 2024.
    The LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Survey offers a comprehensive view into the state of LGBTQ+ inclusion in advertising. While the survey shows a significant shift toward inclusivity, the industry still faces some challenges. In this POV with Greg Wright, VP of committees and conferences at the ANA, learn what some of those challenges are and steps your organization can take to overcome them.

  • The Impact of ERG Programs on the LGBTQ+ Community. ANA, April 2024.
    A team from McCann Worldwide discussed the significant role that employee resource groups (ERGs) play in fostering inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community within the workplace, as well as the power these groups can have in creating groundbreaking campaigns. Within McCann, ERGs are viewed to create conditions in which all employees from all backgrounds can experience:
    • Community and a sense of belonging
    • Meaningful conversations
    • Education and understanding
  • LGBTQ+ Leaders Share Their Stories. ANA, December 2023.
    Target 10 is an LGBTQ+ owned agency that aims to build meaningful, respectful, and lasting relationships between brands and LGBTQ+ consumers. Its "Care with Pride" marketing initiative is designed to champion full equality, inclusion, and care for the LGBTQ+ community while driving love and loyalty for some of the country's best-known brands, such as Tylenol, Neutrogena, Band-Aid, and Clean & Clear. Care With Pride brought together a diverse group of advocates from across the country to share their stories while driving brand love and loyalty.

  • Findings from ANA/AIMM's LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Perceptions Study. ANA, September 2023.
    ANA/AIMM released a study that covers the U.S. perception of inclusivity in advertising, particular to LGBTQ, and assesses consumers' expectations of brands. In this session, ANA/AIMM shared the results of the survey and what it means for brands. Sample finding:

  • How to Talk About and Lend Visibility to the LGBTQ+ Community. ANA, August 2023.
    In a session held during an August 2023 meeting of the ANA's DE&I Forum Committee, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) shared terminological guidance, as well as illuminating data on the LGBTQ+ community and recommendations for marketers seeking to act as its ally. Meghan Bartley, director of agencies, brands, and engagement at GLAAD, explained that "lesbian," "gay," and "bisexual" are nouns, referring to sexual orientation, or whom a person falls in love with. "Transgender," "cisgender," and "nonbinary," on the other hand, are adjectives that describe gender identity — a person's internal, deeply held sense of gender. Gender expression, by contrast (referred to with words such as "feminine," "masculine," and "gender non-conforming") denotes gender expression, e.g., as reflected in names, pronouns, and haircuts. Bartley has noted, however, that "gender expression doesn't necessarily tell you anything about a person unless you have further conversation with them."

    Also from GLAAD, see the results of their survey, Accelerating Acceptance.

  • The Push for Change: Examining LGBTQ+ Representation in Media and Advertising. Nielsen, June 2023.
    The trend toward increasing LGBTQ+ representation in media reflects forward progress for the community, but the road ahead is far from smooth. As recent cancellations and shortened series disproportionately affect queer representation on screen, finding LGBTQ+ inclusive content to help carry inclusive brand messaging may prove even more challenging. No matter if it is in government, television, or social media campaigns, diverse communities want more representation, not less.

    Brands have a unique opportunity to speak directly to and in support of historically excluded populations. Nielsen research shows that 42 percent of U.S. adults say it makes them more likely to buy from a brand when they are represented in a campaign. Helping brands discover new client segments and effectively connect with them takes commitment from the brand and the right insights about the community. Sample finding:

  • Marketing to LGBTQ+ Communities in Today's Divisive Climate. Mintel, July 2023.
    Brand participation in LGBTQ+ Pride Month has been on the rise for the past 10 years. Brands across nearly every category have found ways – both successfully and unsuccessfully – to engage in annual Pride celebrations. Brands' interest in appealing to LGBTQ+ consumers is not surprising; as of 2022, an estimated 7.2 percent of the US population identifies as LGBTQ+, a count that has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Furthermore, nearly half (49 percent) of the total population has a family member or loved one who identifies as LGBTQ+. It's a significant and growing consumer audience, but targeting this population also comes with great responsibility to authentically represent and protect LGBTQ+ communities.

    In recent months we've seen extreme attacks home in on companies and brands expressing their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Bud Light, Target, and The North Face are just a few brands that have recently experienced consumer protests and backlash. While more than 60 percent of LGBTQ+ consumers and their loved ones feel the community needs brand support and allyship more than ever, the spike in brand backlash has many companies questioning or even downplaying their Pride marketing efforts this year. Leveraging insights from the recent Understanding LGBTQ+ Communities Report as well as previous LGBTQ+ consumer research, Mintel has created a set of best practices for brands looking to appeal to LGBTQ+ communities in today's divisive climate:
    • Establish why your brand is targeting LGBTQ+ communities.
    • Marketing strategies need to be thoughtful and thought-through.
    • Prepare for all possible scenarios.
  • 17th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey. Community Marketing and Insights, June 2023.
    The world's largest LGBTQ longitudinal study of its kind, the 17th Annual survey includes the results and analysis of over 14,000 self-identified LGBTQ community members living in the United States, representing the gender, generation and ethnicity spectrum that is the LGBTQ community. Sample finding:


  • General Motors: OnStar's "Love Proudly" Campaign. ANA, April 2024.
    Despite decades of progress, the current climate of discriminatory laws, politics, and culture continues to threaten the safety and peace of mind of the LGBTQ+ community. To extend its LGBTQ+-focused marketing efforts beyond Pride Month and become a stronger ally, OnStar created the "#LoveProudly" campaign, which highlighted authentic stories from LGBTQ+ influencers and individuals on what safety meant to them.

  • How Citi's "Chosen Name" Campaign Elevated Identity and Inclusion. ANA, January 2024.
    For trans people, changing their name on financial documents and banking cards can be an exhausting administrative maze. However, one bank is trying to right this wrong. On this episode of Behind the Campaign, we explore Citi's "Chosen Name" campaign, which gave trans and non-binary customers the choice to easily update their eligible Citi-branded cards to match their true identity, and how the bank partnered with LGBTQ+ advocate Michaela Jaé Rodriguez to successfully spread the word.

  • How These Two SMBs Supported the LGBTQ+ Community on a Shoestring Budget. ANA, January 2024.
    For small-to-medium-sized (SMB) companies operating on limited budgets, launching campaigns supporting the LGBTQ+ community requires a thoughtful and resourceful approach. However, with strategic planning, genuine commitment, and innovative thinking, these companies can effectively engage the LGBTQ+ community and align their brand values with social progress.

    Two SMBs that created impactful initiatives that resonated with the LGBTQ+ community are the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Tamii. Despite budget constraints, both brands executed meaningful campaigns that celebrated diversity, promoted acceptance, and supported the LGTQ+ community.

  • Victories (and Lessons) in Fighting for LGBTQ+ Protections. ANA, October 2023.
    Hilary Lloyd, VP of marketing and corporate responsibility at The Body Shop, shared her brand's latest creative campaign that served to combat anti-LGBTQ+ legislation through retail signage, digital initiatives, an educational hub, and partnerships.

  • PepsiCo's bubly Brand Promotes Safe LGBTQ+ Spaces on YouTube. ANA, August 2023.
    To promote safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community and interest in its bubly beverage brand, PepsiCo's in-house team developed a short film that it promoted on YouTube.

Webinars and Videos

  • Virtual Diversity Fair: Meet LGBTQ+ Owned Companies. ANA, February 2023.
    The ANA has curated a list of diverse suppliers. To extend the value and reach of the list, the ANA holds a series of Virtual Supplier Diversity Fairs. These fairs focus on a particular type of ownership and will be held on a regular basis. February 2023's Virtual Supplier Diversity Fair highlighted LGBTQ+ owned companies, including media companies, agencies, and marketing solution providers. Representatives shared an overview of their company and the ways they can help grow your brand and drive business results.


  • LGBTQ+ Forum. ANA.
    The LGBTQ+ Forum exists to educate marketers on best practices for inclusion of LGBTQ+ in advertising, provide support for LGBTQ+ marketers, and drive more meaningful community-brand connections. As more brands embrace targeted advertising to the LGBTQ+ community and feature community members in their advertising, it is more important than ever that the industry learn how to meaningfully engage the LGBTQ+ community and their purchasing power. The LGBTQ+ Forum meets virtually every other month. 

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful. You can visit the ANA website to engage with the MKC in three ways.

  • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
  • Connect with our ASK Research Service in real time for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.
  • Stay on top of trends with Marketing Futures Pulse issues, which explore how new technologies and innovations will affect marketers and consumers alike. 

"Marketing to the LGBTQ+ Community." ANA, 2023.