LGBTQ+ Consumers Seek Authenticity in Advertising

More than half of LGBTQ+ Americans consider brands' efforts to market to the cohort to be insincere.
Angela Hanson
Senior Editor
LGBTQ flags

NATIONAL REPORT — Most LGBTQ+ consumers support advertising that represents them, but they doubt the sincerity of brands' efforts to market to them.

A recent report by the Collage Group found that 71% of LGBTQ+ consumers feel positive when they see members of their demographic represented in advertising or retail displays. However, that doesn't mean they consider the brands making them to be authentic, reported Convenience Store News' sister publication, Path to Purchase Institute.

In June 2023, Target scaled back its Pride Month promotions and relocated some displays to less-visible areas of the store in response to online backlash and boycott threats from conservative influencers who objected to Pride merchandise. This shift "created the perception that Target was opportunistic, insincere and lacking in conviction," wrote the Collage Group.

It also marked a significant turnaround from one year prior, when Target was deemed a top brand for the LGBTQ+ community based on the support and visibility it had given to LGBTQ+ merchants, creators and community organizations over time.

[Read more: Supporting Social Issues Draws In More Customers]

To avoid similar turnarounds, it is important for retailers to understand how LGBTQ+ people feel about current marketing efforts and ads, and how they want to be represented genuinely, the news outlet reported.

Further research from the Collage Group found that in terms of marketing and LGBTQ+ representation, most Americans are either in support of such advertisements or are impartial. It also found that 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).

At the same time, 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. 

Other key findings from the College Group include:

  • 66% of LGBTQ+ Americans follow influencers or celebrities on social media, compared to 48% of non-LGBTQ+;
  • 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% (nearly 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; and
  • Consumer response to advertising and marketing that addresses transgender and non-binary issues is more muted than LGB issues. However, there is room for growth, as 50% of Americans think brands should speak up about transgender and non-binary issues.

Convenience Store News and Path to Purchase Institute are properties of EnsembleIQ.

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