Don’t stereotype gay consumers, advertisers warned

Start-ups have been urged to ensure advertising aimed at LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) consumers is subtle and avoids stereotypes, following calls from a senior ad man for greater business focus on the community.


According to Harold Mitchell, a contributor for The Age, the LGBT community is an important part of the economy but many advertisers “have been loath to embrace this important market”.


“It is estimated that one in 10 Australians are attracted to the same sex. That’s 2.2 million people, with an estimated disposable income of about $20 billion,” Mitchell wrote in an article.


“Most advertisers have been a bit shy about building their relationships with this incredible market. But some really get it, such as Google, Virgin Australia and ANZ.”


Mitchell said another good example is Gold Coast Tourism, which allocates a big part of its budget to gay and lesbian holidaymakers.


“But back in the world of the media, the acronym we need to know is LGBT,” Mitchell said.


“It is a rich market with many professional high-income earners with no kids.”


“Then there are the SINKs (single income, no kids) and DINKs (double income, no kids). They spend big on the good things of life and are very high-tech savvy.”


“And now there is a large range of media available – printed, digital and events – that can help any advertiser to reach them.”


Jo Macdermott, founder and director of Next Marketing, agrees campaigns tailored for the gay community are “not on the radar” for many advertisers, but says that’s not necessarily a concern.


“If you do tailor a campaign for an off-the-shelf product to a gay audience, it might not sit well,” she says.


Macdermott also points out that not all members of the LGBT community are childless, so advertisers need to avoid stereotyping them.


“For example, you could have a product or service that is perhaps more suited to the DINKs market, such as a bed and breakfast where kids aren’t welcome,” Macdermott says.


“But when you do have them, you look for a place where they are welcome. This includes gay parents.”


Macdermott says rather than tweak their campaigns, businesses should consider expanding their reach by including advertisements in magazines and on online communities aimed at gay people.


Erminio Putignano, of FutureBrand Australia, says businesses risk ruining their campaigns by being too obvious about the demographic they are targeting. He says subtlety is key.


“Consumers… hate feeling pigeonholed into a certain stereotype,” Putignano says.


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