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LGBT Consumers Warm to Ads Targeted to Gays

Facebook and smartphones are among top channels for reaching this demographic

September 1, 2011 | Demographics | Media Buying

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) consumers are more likely to consider buying a product from a company that targets gay people in its ad imagery, according to a survey done by Harris Interactive for consulting firm Witeck-Combs Communications.

LGBT consumers make up 5% to 10% of the population, according to market research firm Community Marketing Inc. (CMI). Further, “gay men and lesbians have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market,” Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing, said in a statement.

Nearly half (47%) of LGBT adults are somewhat or much more likely to consider purchasing a company’s products or services when they see an ad that has been clearly tailored to “a gay audience with gay imagery and people and speaks to me as a gay person,” Harris found, compared with 40% who agreed when asked in 2007.

Likelihood US Gay and Lesbian Internet Users Will Consider Purchasing a Product/Service When Ads Are Tailored to a Gay Audience, 2007 & 2011 (% of total)

Survey participants for the 2011 study were less likely to be indifferent or negative in answer to the question about ad creative than they were in 2007. Those who said they were no more or less likely to purchase a product advertised using gay imagery rose to 48% in 2011 from 35% in 2007. But those who said they were much less likely to purchase in response to ads targeted to them fell to 2% in 2011 from 15% in 2007.

The LGBT demographic pays attention to brands that support causes that are important to them as an LGBT person. LGBT consumers who said they were likely, very likely or extremely likely to consider brands that supported such causes increased from 62% in 2007 to 74% in 2011. Those who are not at all likely to consider brands declined from 15% in 2007 to 3% in 2011.

Likelihood that US Gay and Lesbian Internet Users Will Consider Brands that Support Nonprofits/Causes that Are Important to Them as a Gay or Lesbian, 2007 & 2011 (% of total)

“Even in a struggling economy, LGBT consumers express an unmistakable and stronger sense of brand loyalty to companies that support their community," said Wes Combs, president of Witeck-Combs Communications, in a statement. "Maintaining this trusting and sensitive relationship requires a sustained effort to incorporate diversity, fairness and inclusion into a company's DNA.”

Digital ads tend to be successful with gays and lesbians—groups that have a higher than average ownership of smartphones, according to CMI. When asked if they had completed certain activities related to digital advertising, around 20% of gay men between the ages of 18 and 44 said they had scanned a QR code with a smartphone in the last week. Nineteen percent of gay men between the ages of 18 and 29 reported having clicked on a mobile app ad—a rate higher than that at which older gay men did.

Interactions with Advertising According to US Gay and Lesbian Internet Users, by Age, June 2011 (% of respondents)

Lesbians were much less responsive to smartphone ads than gay men. But about a third of lesbians of all ages said they had clicked on a Facebook ad—about the same percentage as gay men who did so.

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Check out today’s other article, “Online Retailers Fail to Execute Good Customer Experience.”


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