A few years ago, I was at a meeting for Cadillac with an agency pitching them on the LGBTQ market. I was brought along by the agency as the expert in LGBTQ media, just in case anything related came up. The agency did a great presentation, but after it was over they asked us an interesting question. If they could only afford one niche outreach at the time, and they had seen other presentations from the Hispanic and African-American markets, why would the LGBTQ market be the most important for them?
It was almost too easy to point out that the LGBTQ market is inclusive of all ethnicities and demographics, as it is its own multicultural universe and includes crossover to the Hispanic and African-American markets. That explanation sealed the deal for them to move forward in the LGBTQ marketplace.
One nice thing about working in LGBTQ media is that it is a microcosm of America. The ethnicity of LGBTQ readers generally mirrors the ethnicity of America as a whole, and that is a wonderful thing. We have multiple LGBTQ African-American titles, LGBTQ publications that cater to Hispanic and bilingual communities, and even had some that cater to LGBTQ Asian Americans, seniors and sports enthusiasts over the years. You name it and LGBTQ media generally has a publication to match the sub-target you want.
The LGBTQ media marketplace is so diverse that when I look at the demographics of a title, like Baltimore OUTloud or Dallas Voice, they mirror the entirety of the country — with approximately 13 percent African American, 18 percent Hispanic, 60 percent White, 6 percent Asian and 3% other. Of course, in markets where there are specific LGBTQ Hispanic or African-American publications, those titles pull some of the ethnic minority readership from the general local LGBTQ title in places like Washington, D.C., or New York City. Still, it is a diverse group that has one thing in common – cutting across all ethnic and racial lines - an LGBTQ sexual identity.
Brands today are starting to understand, and understand quickly, that diversity and inclusiveness are what customers want. One only has to look at advertising messages today, no matter the medium, to see diverse representations of ethnicity, sexuality, even gender. Companies do this because customers today demand it. Consumers want to feel good about what they are spending their hard-earned dollars on, and the easiest way to do that is to reach out to these consumers directly, either literally or by making sure consumers are seeing themselves represented in an ad or other outreach.
That’s even more important right now as consumers want to separate from companies and brands that promote divisiveness, like we see with a flood of advertisers leaving the Fox News Channel or with the current ad boycott of Facebook. Brands need to send a message of inclusivity by not only paying attention to the actual messaging but also on what channels of advertising they appear.
So, having a Tide ad with no people in it can show that it is targeting the African American market just by being in an African-American publication. It can go a step further by including an African American in the ad. It can go even further by showing up at a time special to the community, like Pride for the LGBTQ community or during a Black Lives Matter event. But be careful with that strategy because showing up just once can and does often come off as tokenism, which is not helpful to either the community or the brand.
The easiest way to show any minority group that they matter to a brand is to show up in their own community media regularly. In fact, a recent survey concerning the LGBTQ market (www.cmi.info) showed that the number one way an LGBTQ consumer found out a company was LGBTQ supportive was by “seeing the brand advertised in LGBTQ media.” I am certain this is the same with other minority groups.
So who reads and pays attention to the LGBTQ, African-American, Hispanic or Asian-American media? It is those individuals who are most concerned with the issues that affect their communities, and it is these very people — the “super influencers” of their own communities — that spread the word. If done right, every company can turn these segments into not only their customers but also their advocates. And that is the greatest opportunity of niche or segment marketing to any community.
By Todd Evans
President and CEO of Rivendell Media-America’s leading LGBTQ media placement firm- a unique media company that was founded in 1979 and represents 95% of all LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS media in the United States and Canada.