The LGBTQ Market
Research as the Foundation of Building your LGBTQ Plan
Attempting to cost-effectively connect with the LGBTQ community without accurate and specific market data is like setting out on a rural road trip without a map or GPS to guide your journey.
Google, and you will find an abundance of market data out there (including our own annual LGBTQ Community Survey) that can be accessed for free. And we encourage you to take advantage of whatever you can find off-the-shelf. But when you do, be sure to check the panel and methodology statements. Some studies contain very low numbers of participants, while others are skewed to a demographic segment, and extrapolate to assume this represents “all LGBTQ.” Depending on this kind of data can inadvertently mis-direct you in the application of the findings to your own needs.
In any case, none of these general “LGBTQ” market studies will specifically inform the marketing of YOUR unique products and services.
In our three decades of producing LGBTQ market studies for a wide range of clients, we’re often able to identify segments within LGBTQ that will yield the best return on investment. Trying to be “all things to all LGBTQ” is not only a challenge, it can be very expensive and bring disappointing results. Far better is to identify the best matches within LGBTQ (by gender identity, generation, ethnicity, geography and/or sexual orientation) and focus on those–at least to get started—and then build on your success.
I learned early on in my Marketing 101 class: “If you want to know what to sell, and if you want to know how to sell it, ask your customer.” So before investing in creative, media planning, ad buying, etc., be sure to ask the LGBTQ community what they want, how to reach them, and with what message. That is the point of research, and it makes basic marketing sense.
As the leading expert on LGBTQ media, I can tell you some interesting and unique things about LGBTQ media and ways to reach this market. I’m going to keep this short and just give you what I think are the three most important things to know in general about LGBTQ media.
First, contrary to what many think, print is still very much king in this arena despite the steady rise of digital. Quality digital LGBTQ specific stand-alone sites are still far and few between as most are off shoots of iconic print media products. The biggest in fact, are EqualPride’s sites based off their two largest magazines (The Advocate and Out Magazine) and the idea is the same across the country like San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter and their site ebar.com or The Washington Blade’s washingtonblade.com or The Philadelphia Gay News and their site epgn.com. We estimate that over 90% of LGBTQ digital editorial content comes directly from LGBTQ print products.
Second, most LGBTQ media is locally based which makes so much sense when you really start to understand this market. LGBTQ rights evolved State by State and so what happens locally is just so important to those in that market and it may not apply in another market. 10 years ago, or maybe longer I would have told you that the future was digital, digital, digital especially with LGBTQ’s being early adaptors of technology. Alas it turns out we like our phones for finding Mr. or Mrs. Right or Right Now vs getting all our news there. Also, the LGBTQ community is a physical community gathering usually at bars, LGBTQ neighborhoods, various Prides, and events and where “We” gather is usually exactly where we look for and find our local print media.
Third, there is still no LGBTQ television network. The Hispanic market has Telemundo, the Black market has BET but despite Logo’s best efforts we still don’t have our own broadcast place yet. Streaming is of course increasing, and we already have some good LGBTQ owned services, but we are not quite there yet.
One thing that is so obvious but worth mentioning here, the LGBTQ market is a multicultural market in and of itself and it is important to know what your target is within this market. There are Black, Hispanic, Lesbian and everything in between LGBTQ media properties. It is our job to make sure you show up exactly where you should be and that includes the right editorial environment within those properties. So, whether the target is young or older or white or black or you need news or entertainment- there is a place for you. It can seem overwhelming but all of that is a part of our job to make sure you show up exactly where you should and where your segment of consumers will be expecting you to be.
So, what is a brand, product, or service to do if they want to pursue this marketplace? Easy, a combo of print and direct local digital focusing on specific markets. Most local LGBTQ digital media properties are not available programmatically so a direct buy would be much better than programmatic as it also supports LGBTQ community. A typical call at our office is: We are looking to reach these top 10 markets, please let us know what is available and what you recommend for our product or service, and we take it from there. Programmatic ad buys can be a great overlay too but best to remember that they generally don’t support “the” community and really need good first-person data and experience in the LGBTQ arena to work properly.