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Gay and Lesbian Consumers Value Company Commitment

  |  August 9, 2002   |  Comments

This highly loyal demographic prefers patronizing companies that have proven their support for the community.

Companies that are looking to court the documented high disposable incomes of gay and lesbian consumers should be willing to make a commitment to the community, according to research from Witeck-Combs Communications and Harris Interactive.

With surveys from Community Marketing, Inc. finding that 83 percent of gay household incomes are above the national average of $40,000 or more, and 34 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more, this powerful consumer market is committed to community involvement, and places high importance on company action.

In a June 2002 survey of 2,050 U.S. adults (of whom 6 percent self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender [GLBT]) conducted by Witeck-Combs and Harris Interactive, almost half felt strongly about patronizing companies that were supportive of the community. However, even though almost 4-in10 (39 percent) would rather purchase from companies that advertise in the GLBT media, 44 percent of the respondents were neutral.

Feelings About Products Among All GLBT Respondents
Strongly Disagree/ Disagree/ Somewhat Disagree (Net)
%
Neither Agree Nor Disagree
%
Strongly Agree/ Agree/ Somewhat Agree (Net)
%
I prefer to purchase a product from a company that advertises in the gay and lesbian media over competing products that do not. 17 44 39
I prefer to purchase a product from a company that is known for providing financial and/or in-kind support to non-profit organizations in the gay and lesbian community over competing products that do not. 16 39 46
Source: Witeck-Combs Communications/Harris Interactive


While the figures are indicative of consumer loyalty, a similar survey conducted by Witeck-Combs Harris Interactive among 2,692 adults (with 4.8 percent self-identifying as GLBT) during May 2001 revealed strong responses to the importance of advertisers' support of the GLBT community and their related actions.

Actions Companies Should Take to Reach GLBT Consumers
GLBT Respondents %
Advertise in gay media (such as the Advocate) 72%
Demonstrate effective corporate citizenship
(that is, support lesbian and gay causes)
72%
Establish and publicize progressive policies
toward gay and lesbian employees
71%
Show gay images in its advertising 50%
Show gay images in its packaging 34%
Source: Witeck-Combs Communications/Harris Interactive


Additionally, 56 percent of all GLBT respondents agreed that they have more trust for brands from progressive companies, with 41 percent stating that they "strongly agree."

"In a marketplace so competitive and information-driven, we see fresh evidence that gays and lesbians are brand-loyal and discriminating about the companies that speak to them," said Wesley Combs, President of Witeck-Combs Communications. "Companies are smart to create deeper connections and build loyalty with customers. Lesbians and gays appear to learn quickly how their choice of brands stacks up by judging the companies that advertise those brands."

When queried about brand loyalty, the 2002 Witeck-Combs survey found that almost half (49 percent) of the GLBT respondents stated that they order alcoholic beverages by name, while this is only true of 41 percent of heterosexual respondents.

Substantiating the evidence of consumer loyalty among this demographic are results from the 2001 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census. Almost half of the respondents agreed that when deciding whether or not to buy a product or service, they try to find out whether or not the company is gay-friendly, and more than 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that there were more likely to buy products or services from companies they knew were gay-friendly.

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