Targeting Consumer Segments
Based on Sexual Orientation: Can
Advertisers Swing Both Ways?
Gillian K. Oakenfull
Many marketers have begun to refer to the gay and lesbian consumer market as a “dream market, ” bypromises of above-average disposable income and a willingness to spend. Astudy by Over Looked Opinions, a gay-focused marketresearch firm, estimates that the gay market consists of 18.5 million people with total annualincome of $514 billion (Johnson, 1993). More conservative estimates, such as those of Nile Merton, publisher of The Advocate, put the number of gay and lesbian consumers in the United States at 5 million (Johnson, 1993), and gays' and lesbians' annual spending estimated at $450 billion (Garden, 2001).
Firms interestedintargeting the gay and lesbian market can choose from a growing number and variety of print media. Most metropolitan areas have both free and paid newspapers and magazines with gay-related content specific to the area. Additionally, anumber of nationally distributed gay and lesbian magazines have joined traditional, and more political ly inclined, outlets such as The Advocate, On Our Backs, and Outweek to offer marketersmorestylish and consumer-oriented vehicles throughwhich to reach agay and lesbian audience. In 1997, marketers flooded The morethan 140 gay magazines and newspapers in the United States with ads totaling over $100 million last year.
Although marketers have littletrouble intargeting gay and lesbian consumers ingay-oriented media, a shortsurvey of advertising history will chartasimilar pathintargeting racial and ethnic groups that led toacrossover to mainstream media. Several firms such as IKEA, Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, and Benetton have used gayimagery inads that have appearedinmainstream media. However,