LGBTQ+ Consumers

June 24, 2020

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

Being inclusive and connecting emotionally and truthfully with different demographics and groups of people, like the LGBTQ+ community, requires authenticity.

Authenticity isn't something a brand can fake, but rather it results from inclusive practices and strategies, such as hiring and retaining diverse LGBTQ+ talent, surveying the demographic, social listening, and prioritizing the need to represent a variety of perspectives. 

Including the LGBTQ+ community in conversations, cultural moments, and in the ads they see, isn't and shouldn't just be a marketing ploy, but a way to showcase all people. True equality matters, and representation in marketing sets a cultural precedence.

For instance, a recent Adobe study found that nearly one-third of all consumers were more likely to purchase from companies with more diversity in campaigns, and more than 50 percent of people among underrepresented groups such as the LGBTQ+ community believe in only supporting brands that prioritize diversity. In 2019, approximately nine million Americans identified as LGBTQ+, according to research by the Williams Institute. 

Companies that change internally, not just externally in ads, are by far the most successful at creating meaningful change and connection. For example, the American Express "I Am" campaign included a variety of people from different backgrounds and lifestyles within the LGBTQ+ community.

American Express prioritized internal change with its employees and created an inclusive culture within the company, and created a variety of toolkits and hosted numerous internal meetings and events to educate teams and foster an inclusive environment for all employees. Every company can do this, it's just about when.

The Ask the Expert research team has curated best practices and a variety of case studies below.

Trends and Best Practices

  • Coming Out: How Brands Should Adapt Pride Strategies During the Pandemic. Adweek, June 2020.
    This article offers seven best practices for how brands can resonate better with the LBGTQ+ audience, with a key reminder that Pride is about the ongoing fight for human rights and equality: "Forget rainbow toothpaste or limited edition rainbow t-shirts... Showcase real LGBTQ+ individuals in your marketing and highlight the real focuses of the movement."

  • The Importance of Representing Trans People in Advertising. Marketing Week, April 2020.
    Despite a rise in LGBTQ+ representation in advertising, trans people are still woefully underrepresented. From a moral and business perspective, the ad industry needs to listen to, represent, and protect trans people (whether they're employees, agency partners, or ad talent). As an example, the Starbucks U.K. #whatsyourname campaign was based on the real life experiences of people who were transitioning, telling the story of how it feels to be finally called by your rightful name written on a coffee cup. The company also donated proceeds of a special-edition cookie to the Mermaids helpline.
  • Mindshare Deploys Private Marketplace to Drive Media Dollars to LGBTQ Publishers. Ad Age, February 2020. SKYY Vodka is the first brand to partner with Mindshare on the use of a private marketplace. In a new age where digital ads are inadvertently blocked by keyword "exclusion lists," the PMP will ensure that ad dollars are not lost. For more on "exclusion lists," see Majority of positive LGBTQ+ content is flagged "brand unsafe."

  • 13th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey. Community Marketing, July 2019.
    This annual survey asks about areas such as non-binary identification, preferred terminology used in the community, financial status, car ownership, impact of advertising in LGBTQ media, and more.

  • LGBT Demographic Data Interactive. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, January 2019.
    An interactive site with data on the LGBTQ+ population across 50 states, with statistics on gender, presence of children in the household, age, income, and more.

  • Note to Brands: Actions Speak Louder Than Words. ANA Industry Insights, June 9, 2020.
    Statistics and brand examples that illustrate the need for culture to change from within a brand, not just within its creative copy.

How can we help you? Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.

Brand Examples

  • The Extraordinary Example. ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards, January 2020.
    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee recognized a strong need to extend its resources to the LGBTQ community and increase the number of male mentors who inquire about volunteer opportunities.

  • "Queer City" May Be the Best Campaign Ever. ANA Event Recap, February 2020.
    Procter & Gamble and BMW were sponsors of the "Pride and Progress" initiative launched by WarnerMedia to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In particular, "Queer City: A CNN Experience" invited the public to walk through a curated museum featuring hundreds of artifacts and stories of queer individuals in New York City. P&G showcased its documentary, Out of the Shadows, which told the story of a group of LGBTQ+ employees at its Cincinnati headquarters. BMW brought forward a photo booth experience to highlight the "safe space" that many LGBTQIA+ individuals sought out. Both P&G and BMW saw content engagement rates increase as a result of this sponsorship.

  • ABSOLUT and Coachella: A Unified Partnership. ANA Event Recaps, July 2019.
    At the 2019 Coachella festival, ABSOLUT launched its revamped brand positioning as "Planet Earth's Favorite Vodka" and created an activation for its new grapefruit vodka that focused on sustainability, celebrated the LGBTQ community and promoted inclusivity.

  • MassMutual's Commitment to the LGBT Community. ANA Event Recap, June 2018.
    MassMutual's commitment to LGBTQIA+ causes is over a decade long. The most notable campaign has been "Vow to Protect," which focused on stories of real-life couples as they plan for their future. MassMutual provided insights into the campaign, new research, and how it leveraged data and findings.

  • How Macy's Celebrates Pride + Joy with the LGBT Community. ANA Event Recap, June 2018.
    Macy's highlighted the process and success behind its "Pride + Joy" campaign aimed at promoting LBGTQ+ awareness and inclusion for consumers, employees, and communities across the country. With its long history of supporting LGBTQ+ people and creating localized events for communities across the country, the company has found ways to measure success and foster brand and customer loyalty.

  • Pantene Tackles Issue of Misgendering at Hair Salons. PR Week, November 2019.
    Procter & Gamble brand polled 200 people who identified as transgender or non-binary about their experiences at hair salons.
    The majority (93 percent) said they felt anxious about visiting one and were unable to achieve their "dream hair" because they had been misgendered, meaning they had been referred to as belonging to a gender with which they do not identify. As a result, Pantene launched a U.K. campaign with the Dresscode Project, an initiative that seeks to create a network of "gender-affirming salons and barber shops for LGBTQ+ clients" by providing education to salon staff. (Dresscode Project was launched in the U.S. in 2017 by hair stylist Kristin Rankin.) In the U.S., Pantene launched a June 2020 Instagram contest for salon owners to win $10,000).

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful in any marketing environment.

  • 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 the Expert team for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.

How can we help you? Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.


"LGBTQ+ Consumers." ANA, June 2020.