LGBTQ Pride Month has arrived in the United States and across the world with all the vibrancy and celebration that we have seen in past years, despite a very different domestic political climate. With the change of an administration, what has not changed is the commitment that many Fortune 500 companies have toward diversity and inclusion within their work force and their consumer outreach. In a noisy world, having a strong and authentic commitment to diverse communities can make a brand stand out and matter more. The swings in political administrations should not be a sign that progress in authentic connections to the LGBTQ community should come to a halt. Indeed, now more than ever, doing the right thing and growing your company’s bottom line are no longer mutually exclusive.
For years, the LGBTQ community has been looked at as a coveted demographic to reach. Even in the years where we did not have full equality the community has been sought after as research and data confirmed higher disposable incomes and greater brand loyalty to brands that reached out to us. And most importantly, as cultural acceptance has expanded more people are living proud, out and authentic lives. No longer a faceless idea, we are your co-workers, neighbors, friends, sons and daughters.
A recent Pew study released this week indicates that the number of Americans identifying as LGBTQ has increased from 8.5% to 10% of the general population. In the same study, the number is even higher in the Millennial category. And as our numbers grow, so do our allies in cities and towns across the country who are also drawn to brands that embrace members of their families and extended circles. The influence of the LGBTQ community and Allies are here to stay and a company’s inclusive outreach matters even more today than in 2016.
As the only demographic that intersects virtually every other segment like women, men, families, communities of color, people of faith, youth, Boomers and Seniors the opportunity for brands to make an impact by marketing to and thru the LGBTQ community is good business. Here are 3 things to consider when creating campaigns for the LGBTQ community:
Authenticity. If a person sees themselves in advertising, marketing or public relations campaigns they will understand immediately that they are welcome. Nothing worse than seeing a strategy that does not include the diversity of faces that we see in our everyday lives. And in the vein of authentic strategies, more brands are winning by breaking down manufactured silos and including LGBTQ people in ads that also feature everyone else. A recent Delta airline ad was groundbreaking in many ways because it depicted folks getting up early to catch a plane and included a gay couple in an exceptionally authentic and seamless way. This is what an authentic win looks like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6JRidQkWsk
Diversity. The LGBTQ community is not monolithic. It never has been. Thinking through campaigns that include a breadth of faces around race, age and gender not only more accurately reflects the LGBTQ community but can also touch on communities of color with inclusion of Latin or African American faces. The LGBTQ community has achieved marriage equality so let’s see some LGBTQ families represented as another way to speak to diverse outreach. The LGBTQ community can now also serve openly and proudly as a member of the military. What kind of amazing brand loyalty is possible for a brand that features a same sex military family? Diversity is key even within consumer outreach that is already rooted in the idea of inclusion.
Subject Matter Experts. The internet went wild one day when a photo of the current administration was shown discussing women’s health issues that showcased a table entirely of men. Ensure that the team you build includes the consumer you want to reach. This seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how far some brands still must go in expanding the seats at a table. Lean into your LGBTQ employee resource group to help guide strategy. Lean into LGBTQ organizations like Out and Equal in the Workplace and GLAAD for guidance in hitting on a diverse and authentic message. Retain agencies that have genuine D&I practices that can share years of subject matter expertise. Subject matter expertise is critical to navigate what are both exciting and challenging times to matter more to diverse audiences.
While June is recognized across the country and across the globe as Pride Month, the truth is consumers who are LGBTQ celebrate Pride every day, every month, all year long. Find ways to touch the LGBTQ consumer throughout the year. Avoid the fading strategy of “one and Done” by only engaging during the month of June and the benefits will follow throughout the year. By making your LGBTQ consumer recognize that they are valued in the same way that other diverse facets of the American population are you will find your brand breaking ahead crowded fields to matter more.