A report from Collage Group titled "Deliver Resonant and Relevant LGBTQ Ads" takes a close look at LGBTQ+ marketing and advertising and explores how that community in America feels about recent ads representing them. It also provides perspectives from non-LGBTQ+ people.
Looking back at Pride Month (June) this year, Target found itself embroiled in controversy by some vocal consumers who chose to boycott the retailer for its LGBTQ+ marketing efforts that began in May. The outrage was led primarily by conservative influencers who took issue with Target’s presentation of products related to Pride Month, which celebrates and honors the community and its history.
The negative social media traction and threats to boycott the retailer ultimately drove Target to downplay its Pride Month promotions in-store and online (e.g., scaling back and relocating Pride merchandise/displays from highly visible spots, in some cases).
That decision, explored in depth by Collage Group in a fall report titled “Unpacking the Target Boycott,” had unintentional consequences from the LGBTQ+ community, according to Collage Group, which said, “It created the perception that Target was opportunistic, insincere and lacking in conviction,” and subjected the brand to criticism from both sides of the debate.
That perception of Target differed substantially from what it was just a year prior, when it was deemed a top brand for the LGBTQ+ community in Collage Group’s 2022 report, “The Top 10 Brands for LGBTQ+ Consumers,” mostly for the support and visibility it has given to LGBTQ+ merchants, creators and community organizations over the years. (In addition, Roundel, Target’s in-house media agency, fosters long-term relationships with LGBTQ+-identifying celebrities and creators.)
To avoid what happened to Target, it's important to understand how LGBTQ+ people feel about current marketing efforts and ads and how they want to be represented genuinely. Some key findings from Collage Group’s research includes:
- In terms of marketing and LGBTQ+ representation, most Americans are either in support of such advertisements or are impartial.
- 66% of LGBTQ+ Americans follow influencers or celebrities on social media, compared to 48% of non-LGBTQ+.
- When LGBTQ+ individuals or groups appear in ads, 71% of the LGBTQ+ segment has positive feelings, as does 31% of non-LGBTQ individuals. Of that 31%, 37% are younger Americans (ages 18-43) and 27% are older (ages 44-77).
- While LGBTQ+ consumers react positively toward commercials that attempt to appeal to them, more than half of these consumers are still skeptical of the brands’ intentions.
- For those who identify as LGBTQ+, 55% say that brands’ efforts to woo the community come across as insincere; 65% of Gen Zers that identify as LGBTQ+ say that these campaigns are insincere.
- 23% (almost 59 million people) of Americans have boycotted a brand because of its stance on a social or political issue.
- Awareness of backlash toward companies that support the LGBTQ+ community is low among general consumers. Baby Boomers tend to be the most cognizant of such backlash, followed by Gen Xers.
- Consumer response to advertising and marketing that addresses transgender and non-binary issues is more muted than LGB issues, though there is room for growth as 50% of Americans think brands should speak up about transgender and non-binary issues.