5 best practices for marketing to LGBTQ2+ consumers
By Jumol Royes
You’ve probably heard of the pink dollar aka the spending power of the LGBTQ2+ community.
Attitudes towards LGBTQ2+ folks have shifted significantly over the past 20 years (thankfully, for the better), and brands and businesses here in Canada and around the world are developing strategies and creating campaigns that they hope will resonate with the community. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re one of them.
This increased focus on courting the LGBTQ2+ dollar is welcomed.
Whereas brands would once balk at the idea of marketing directly to LGBTQ2+ consumers or showing public support for the LGBTQ2+ community, today it’s become almost commonplace. When Pride Month rolls around in June, we know to expect a barrage of LGBTQ2+ friendly ads, Pride-themed merchandise, corporate-sponsored Pride parades and rainbow flags proudly displayed in storefront windows.
That all sounds like progress, but if companies aren’t careful, and more importantly intentional, about how they market to LGBTQ2+ consumers, it can come off as rainbow washing. That’s when businesses do a colourful and splashy campaign once a year – almost always timed to coincide with Pride – but fail to do the meaningful work required to engage and support the LGBTQ2+ community that would make them good corporate citizens and allies.
LGBTQ2+ folks can spot this sort of virtue signalling a mile away (our ability to suss out brands who are only trying to pander to us is as impressive as our gaydar).
The LGBTQ2+ community wants to be seen, heard and understood, and know that they matter, just like everyone else. No community wants to be viewed as a commodity, something to be bought and sold for profit, or a box to be ticked on a brand manager’s checklist. The needs, wants, desires and interests of the LGBTQ2+ community are diverse and varied, and brands and businesses need to take that into consideration.
Before you start planning your next campaign, here are five best practices for marketing to the LGBTQ2+ community. Consider it your LGBTQ2+ marketing cheat sheet. You’ll thank us for it later.
- When in doubt, do your research
As marketers, we know a thing or two about creating audience and buyer personas. They absolutely serve a purpose, but they’re no replacement for good, old-fashioned community engagement techniques. Before you create and launch an LGBTQ2+ focused campaign, do your research first and find out where your brand stands with the community. Surveys, focus groups and town halls are just some of the ways you can gather invaluable input and insights from the LGBTQ2+ community. Make sure their perspectives aren’t just considered; you need to find ways to incorporate them into your campaign, too. (Bonus tip: If you don’t have LGBTQ2+ team members on your marketing team, you should get on that pronto. If you need a marketing partner, we’re here to help.)
- Think outside the Pride box
“We show our support during Pride Month,” is a standard response from brand reps when asked how they support the LGBTQ2+ community. While that may have worked 20 or even 10 years ago, it barely meets the minimum requirement today. LGBTQ2+ folks are savvy consumers who know when a brand is being authentic…and when it’s not. Celebrating and supporting Pride is fun and sexy, but it’s showing up and showing support for the community 365 days a year that really resonates. Think outside the Pride box and create campaigns that have touchpoints with the community throughout the year. Nobody likes a one-trick pony.
- Make the connection
You’ve done your research and you have a good grasp on what LGBTQ2+ consumers think of your brand and where their interests lie. The next step is to marry those interests with how you can best serve them through the products and services you offer. NielsenIQ’s 2021 consumer data on LGBTQ2+ households showed that “57 per cent of LGBTQ2+ households are more likely to choose a store that offers high quality prepared foods and hot meal solutions,” according to the Grocery Business website. If you’re a grocer, that little nugget of information could help inform a social media campaign featuring LGBTQ2+ influencers unboxing and eating your prepared meals at home and giving their reviews. It’s all about connecting the dots.
- Representation matters
There’s no denying that the way the world sees us has a direct impact on how we see ourselves. If we’re not represented in marketing campaigns and in the media, it can make us feel invisible. The LGBTQ2+ community isn’t homogenous; we’re a colourful and queerful bunch with unique intersectional lived experiences. When creating an LGBTQ2+ marketing campaign, you should always try to feature diverse LGBTQ2+ people of different races, genders, ages and physical abilities. There are many kinds of LGBTQ2+ couples and families, too. Remember: Representation matters.
- Diversify your media planning
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This beloved Maya Angelou quote applies when marketing to the LGBTQ2+ community. Most brands have a bunch of mainstream media properties that feature regularly in their marketing mix. And that’s okay. LGBTQ2+ folks consume mainstream media as much as the next person. However, LGBTQ2+ audiences are also loyal to niche publications and platforms that appeal to their interests (hint: this is another good way to discover those connections we mentioned in tip #3). Consider diversifying your media buys and running campaigns in LGBTQ2+ specific media, like our very own IN Magazine. Meet the community where they are, and you’ll be rewarded.
If you’re looking for more guidance around marketing to the LGBTQ2+ community, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free consultation.