Marketing the Rainbow
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There is a lot of money going around in home improvement, furnishing and refurbishments of houses - and of course even more so in the sale of real estate (see separate article). Getting a foot in the door of the LGBT population would mean a large share of wallet.
A number of companies have found this door and placed their foot. However, not always successfully.
A few years ago, a journalist from the UK reported: “Many big companies like IKEA find themselves inundated with complaints whenever they attempt to aim their advertising campaigns towards the gay market. In 2006, IKEA launched a TV advert in USA in which two gay men sat on the floor with their daughter. Backlash from the American Family Association (AFA) ensued as a spokesperson claimed, “IKEA produces dozens of pro-homosexual ads that they air on Swedish TV. If they're going to run their ads in this country, at least make those ads reflect the values of our society." Granted, things have changed dramatically since same-sex marriage has become legal in 2015, but conservative watchdogs like the AFA and One Million Moms still speak up against anything that does not fit in with their image of society. Luckily, their boycotts have never really worked, and less and less so.
A US consumer survey conducted by online research agency Socratic Technologies and Target 10, a gay and lesbian marketing agency showed that gay couples planned to spend 50% more on home improvement projects than non-gay couples over the next 12 months: $ 2,077 as opposed to $ 1,384. Two thirds of gay homeowners had intentions to start home improvements in the next 12 months, more than half planning to purchase more new appliances or furnishings (the kitchen being high on their list).
"Renovating and refurbishing homes is in many ways a part of gay culture. Even in bad economic times, they are not stopping," said Matt Tumminello, president of Target 10.
Some of the higher spending may be attributed to the fact that gay homeowners are moving and relocating with significantly more frequency than non-gay homeowners: in the past 10 years, 21% of gay homeowners had moved three or more times, compared to 12% of non-gay homeowners. This obviously also makes them an interesting target group for real estate agents.
Other reasons for spending more lies in the fact that they have a higher disposable income and the trend that gays and lesbians enjoy in-home entertaining more than the average consumer.
The survey also uncovered some interesting findings on how consumers shop. "We found that gay consumers are shopping in more places than straight consumers to find the items that they want. This includes both at retail stores and online," said Jeff Kerr, vice president of Socratic Technology. Gay consumers reported higher rates of shopping and purchasing at Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, Best Buy, and even the warehouse shopping club, Costco. "They are savvy shoppers who are determined to find exactly what they want and at the best price."
And what they want is high-end. Just as in other categories, (many) gay consumers are seeking premium brand names. The survey found that gay homeowners were significantly more likely to seek out products from top-tier brands such as Viking, Sub Zero, Jenn-Air and Miele.
Crisis? What crisis? While non-gay homeowners showed a willingness to use less expensive materials during this economic downturn, this is something most gay consumers are not willing to do.
One of the most important argument for brands to throw themselves at the feet of this demographic is their brand loyalty. Tumminello observes: "Gays and lesbians are famous for their brand loyalty and an opportunity exists to fill that void. Those first in, win. In the last few years we've noticed very few household appliance and home improvement brands taking steps to court gay consumers and no one brand has emerged as a market leader."
The message to companies is now clearer than ever: embrace the enormity of the pink pound/dollar/euro or face being shunned by a very influential sector of society. Advertising Manager for Attitude magazine, Alex Frieson, stated that "We are dealing with 21-year-olds with 31-year-old wage-packets. They are trendy, young, modern, forward-looking guys with enormous brand loyalty for companies that do something for gays."
Opportunities galore, it seems!