The demographics of the American consumer are changing. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau identified that there were almost 650,000 married and unmarried same-sex couple households in the United States. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay buying power will approach $1 trillion in 2012. The organization also reports that same-sex households are shown to be 20 percent more affluent than their heterosexual equivalents. Approximately 90 percent of those couples are loyal to certain brands and highly likely to seek them out. In addition, gay parents are becoming a unique market segment, with approximately 33 percent of lesbian couples and 22 percent of gay male couples having children in their households.
Some major companies are already marketing to this segment. JCPenney featured two gay dads and their children in a June catalog. Esurance, the direct-to-consumer personal car insurance company, offers insurance savings to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships and civil unions. Financial planning firms, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and UBS are launching divisions that focus on the unique financial issues same-sex couples face.
This market could also be an increasing opportunity to small-business owners. Large public companies with conservative shareholders can become targets of conservative political action groups. As a result, they may be more cautious about marketing directly to same-sex couples because they risk a short-term financial loss.
Here are five tips for marketing to same-sex couples.
Forget politics. Think of this as an economic issue and target their needs like any other market segment. Focus on the pain points in their daily activities like financial and family issues.
Watch changes in the laws. This can yield new market opportunities. Same sex marriages and civil unions are becoming legal in more states, which expands the $40-billion wedding industry.
Focus on word-of-mouth marketing. Like other consumers, same-sex couples value trusted recommendations from their friends. Always ask for referrals as part of your marketing strategy.
Advertise in local gay media. Make sure your company is listed in this targeted segment on Yahoo! places such as the Gay and Lesbian Yellow Pages. (Be careful not to advertise by simply slapping a rainbow on your promotions.)
Sponsor a gay-themed event. The local gay pride parade is supported widely in many communities. For example, Kraft Food's Oreo had a “rainbow themed” cookie this year on their Facebook page that received 150,000 Likes and 18,000 comments.
It's important to remember when marketing to same-sex couples that, like most markets, every customer may want something slightly different.