Serena Freewomyn

New Study Reveals LGBTQ Spending Habits

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | June 01, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Apple, Bravo, capitalism, HBO, Showtime, Starbucks

A new report from Prime Access, Inc.,an advertising agency that targets African American, Hispanic, gay and urban youth consumers has a lot to say about how the LGBTQ community spends its money. According to the study, we have high brand loyalty for the companies we view as gay friendly. And we also tend to provide a lot of negative word of mouth if we have had a bad experience with a company. The Nation's Restaurant News reports that:

With buying power estimated to exceed $600 billion a year, the gay and lesbian community represents a potentially lucrative market for restaurateurs to tap. But some operators are doing a better job than others at attracting that audience as customers and employees . . .

I like that people are cutting straight to the point here about why the survey is important. The gays have money. Let's tap that.

So who's been tapping that ass? Starbucks, Target, Showtime, Bravo, HBO, Apple, and Subaru ranked highest on the list of companies the gays like to frequent.

"There's been a lot of research over the years that showed gays and lesbians are highly loyal to brands they buy," said Howard Buford, president of Prime Access, "and our statistics show that between 68 percent and 72 percent of gay and lesbian consumers are strongly motivated to purchase brands they consider gay-friendly."

First off, can I just say that I'm happy to have the scientific proof to back up my claims about the Subaru Outback being a total lezzy car? But is it really a shocker that the gays love Bravo and Showtime? Um, hello! Project Runway? The L Word? Queer As Folk? I don't think the gays needed proof that the networks love us. But apparently the straights did.

I think the most hilarious interpretation of this study is this:

One other thing is that the gay community tends to be a trendsetter. Most of them tend to be influencers of other people. As such, they are important consumers to have because they influence the purchasing behavior of others.

Hello, people! Are you paying attention? We have purchasing power! It's a good thing I love to shop! But am I the only one who thinks that we need to be utilizing this purchasing power to our advantage?

By the year 2010 gays and lesbians will spend approximately $835 billion annually. . .

That's a lot of cheddar. I know that the HRC already provides a list of gay-friendly companies. But I think we should be evaluating that money in much larger terms than good, old-fashioned consumerism. I think that we need to re-prioritize how we're spending those dollars and ask if that money is really being put to the best use for our community.

But I guess what really cheeses me off about this report is that it perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are all upper-middle class and all we care about is frivolous things like lattes and hair product. (OK, I guess I have to be honest and admit that I do care about lattes and hair product. What lezzy doesn't?) This study completely overlooks the fact that many in our community are either homeless or on the brink of homelessness, and that many of us are unemployed or underemployed due to homophobia and transphobia. I find it kind of offensive that the study will be used to "target" our community without any corresponding social responsibility for said community.

A case in point: Bacardi is listed as highly gay friendly. I assume this is because they are a typical sponsor for various Pride events around the country. But when's the last time that you saw Bacardi sponsoring something like hospice care for AIDS patients or substance abuse prevention programs? It's pretty annoying, in my opinion, that one of the largest and most consistent corporate sponsors of Pride is an alcohol company, when so many in our community struggle with addiction.

I guess what I'm asking for here is a little social accountability. It's not enough for these companies to target ads towards our community. If they aren't invested in the community through corporate giving, I don't think we should be investing in them through our consumer spending habits.


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beergoggles | June 1, 2008 11:15 AM

One thing that has always bothered me about the ratings given to these companies is that it doesn't factor in the political donations of those companies.

Coors is a typical case in point - rated 100 by HRC but their political contributions go into the pockets of bigots. There's gotta be a better rating system - HRC just isn't doing the job they should be.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 1, 2008 12:18 PM

The focus of a study like the one Serena has found is who has targeted the Gay dollar and what they are doing to obtain it. Those things include training of sales and marketing people, floor staff, and the physical environment they provide.

Subaru probably treats a woman who is making a car purchase decision like a customer. Many car sales company people walk away from a woman shopping alone, quite mistakenly, as they particularly believe that a car purchase is a masculine thing. A guy will be followed and hassled incessantly, because the old fogie car salesmen consider them decision makers.

Many companies tweak their focus of how to sell you more things and add ons to your purchase decisions by employing sales market testing and polling. Who pays for the polling if there is no reward of increased sales? No one will.

They do not assume that all GLBT persons are wealthy within these parameters, only your propensity to spend. (whether you are a five latte a week or a one latte a week) !;^)

Any humanitarian motive is entirely separate and needs to be lobbied for rather than simply anticipated. In short, Gay organizations have to stand in line with the hospitals, orphanages, local symphony orchestras and other charitable giving a Target does. Target gives to charities in all markets where it has stores, many of them probably already benefit LGBT persons, but it is probably hard to quantify the degree because many do not include their sexuality in their need. i.e. how many drug addicts treated in your facility are Gay is an unlikely question. How successful you are at treating drug addicts is a question. The humanitarian services GLBT persons need mirror everyone else's.

When a Gay Pioneer, Dr. Franklin Kameny, was on his uppers from job loss due to his sexual preferences in the 1950's he briefly had help from the Salvation Army. (hardly a gay org) He did not like it, but he had no short term choice. As you probably know he became a founder of the Mattachine society and coined the phrase "Gay is Good."

Beer has made a very valid point. HRC endorsing Coors is basically endorsing sending gay money to Dobson.

Also, Serena, simply excellent. Most of the Lesbians that I know are not making six figures and are struggling in non-union jobs.

Social accountability is not likely to play well with the gay conservative elites.

Oh, and I do not drive a Subaru(sobs)
I drive a Tuscani or an Eclipse Spyder

I've read this blog a number of times and I'm wondering how the inclusion of "how the LGBTQ community spends its money" relates to a study on how "the gay and lesbian community represents a potentially lucrative market for restaurateurs to tap" or "a lot of research over the years. . . . .showed gays and lesbians are highly loyal to brands they buy" or "the gay community tends to be a trendsetter."

I appreciate the attempt to include trans people in this blog, certainly the criticism of "the stereotype that gays and lesbians are all upper-middle class and all we care about is frivolous things like lattes and hair product."

It is my understanding transsexual women are at the highest risk for HIV/AIDS and that under- and unemployment in the transgendered community is at percentages that simply take the breath away.

I would rather 'LGBTQ' simply not be included in a piece about "an advertising agency that targets African American, Hispanic, gay and urban youth consumers" and does itself not address the spending habits of those who either do not make the class cut-off--or are too busy dying.

Serena, I'm not sure what the correct way to address the void in the report you're commenting on is, but I strongly suggest that simply inserting "LGBTQ" as some more politically correct way of saying "African American, Hispanic, gay and urban youth consumers" isn't the way to do it.

"Social accountability" is certainly the appropriate direction to go, but without an exploration of the real and admittedly complex lives of transgendered people--and bisexual people, too--I'm not certain the educational aspect has been pursued as far as it must.

Saying "homophobia and transphobia" without mentioning it is not just gay and lesbian people who endure these evils just perpetuates the notion, already deeply ingrained, that we're all really gay, merging our very different lives and struggles with those already relatively well-known.

I've read this piece several times and I cannot find the words "transgender, transsexual, transgendered, bisexual" anywhere in it.

Serena, I truly believe it is necessary to actually say these words.

I understand this seems beyond the scope of the study you're quite legitimately criticizing, but without this reaching beyond how will the struggles of those most marginalized in our society ever be brought in from the cold.

But I guess what really cheeses me off about this report is that it perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are all upper-middle class and all we care about is frivolous things like lattes and hair product.

Well, it was a webpoll. One that selected participants based on other demographics, but still....

That's a good point. Alcohol companies score so high because they sponsor prides, and then prides turn into stupid drink fests. At least in lamer cities.

I'm always wary of these studies that prove nothing more than "Gays spend money!"

Jessica,

You have a valid criticism of this particular study. The advertising agency only looked at gay and lesbian consumers.

As for my analysis of the study, I don't think it's fair to say that I've glossed over the B&T members of our community. My entire point is that this study tries to present our comunity as a homogenous group that has access to high levels of disposable income. I am very aware of the fact that the trans folks in our community are affected by employment discrimination much more than the rest of our community, which is why I included the phrase "transphobia" in my analysis of the study.

I appreciate being called to task. But I also think your critique is just a bit harsh. I'm not a perfect ally. But I'm trying.

This Jessica doesn't know what the fuck she is talking about! Don't even dignify her shit with a comment, Serena.

Your article was very thought provoking, informative and relevant.

Sadly, the problem with people like Jessica is that they get so caught up in simple terms that they miss the point entirely!

Dissecting an article to find the few things you dislike about it is pathetic.

As someone who used to work in the advertising industry, the lengths ad execs go to to reach their "target audience" is scary.

"Target audience" is the perfect phrasing; the gay and lesbian community is a coveted "target" and Serena's reminding us all that we should think about who we're giving our money to and how they're spending our dollars.

I definitely fall into the brand-loyal category. Oddly enough, I got that from my straight dad. I also "pimp" my favorite companies to my friends and anyone who asks me for suggestions. I'm not quite sure that "gay-friendly" or "gay-supportive" companies factor into younger gays' minds as much as maybe just the simple chic factor of some businesses and their products. I'd be willing to bet that the difference between choosing chic and gay-friendly companies is directly proportional to "pride" and being "out" though.

Still, it's a very interesting read. You're right; there's a lot of buying power out there that could be tapped even more greatly through better socially-responsible marketing. I totally agree with the Bacardi comment. I'll be looking for more news on how the (RED) campaign is turning into a marketing debacle.