Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Market to the Gay Consumer
About ten years ago, cush honda of san Diego became one of the first automobile dealerships to aggressively pursue the gay and lesbian community. “The first year we participated in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade was a little difficult,” admitted Frank Lechner, spokesman for the dealership. “We received some negative feedback from anonymous callers.”
But Cush didn’t back down. “Our involvement is another part of embracing the community in which we do business,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we want to support it?”
Savvy businesses in all industries are reaching out to serve America’s gay consumers. According to Advertising Age, up to 10 percent of the population in urban markets is gay, and that translates into a large chunk of market share— gay men and women spend about $514 billion a year.
Victoria Garcia, a San Diego marketing consultant who specializes in this segment, said it makes economic sense to cater to gay consumers. “Mainstream businesses have now recognized the power of the gay dollar,” said Garcia. “The fact that more celebrities and athletes have come out of the closet has a definite impact on the acceptance of the new trend [in marketing to gay people].”
Garcia, principal of the Marketing Impressions Advertising Agency, helps non-gay businesses reach the gay market. But she cautions clients against launching a campaign with- out careful planning.
“An effective gay-targeted campaign requires more than just showing a room full of men using a certain product or flying a rainbow flag,” she explained. “It means demonstrating a sincere understanding of their perspective. It’s very important for consumers to walk into a business and feel accepted and comfortable,” she said.
More tips from Garcia
- Keep advertisements simple and avoid overstating your “plea” for their business.
- Humor is a great tool to break the ice.
- Understand your community and find out exactly what local gay consumers are looking for.