It is a lot trickier now.
Gay and lesbian customers are sophisticated and have lots of money. They are also suspicious of being exploited. Which means they will boycott companies that offend them. For example, Procter & Gamble, the insurance giant GEICO, Xerox, and Sky Tel Communications pulled their advertising dollars from Dr. Laura’s popular show. Why? Because they didn’t want to alienate potential gay and lesbian customers.
The buying power of the gay and lesbian community carries tremendous opportunity, so much so that marketing to the gay community is now a targeted area that requires specialized advertising. Any individual or business that wants to fish in the waters of the gay community must support tolerant workplace policies and be actively involved in gay and lesbian concerns.
Many companies have chosen to do so: Subaru, IBM, Crest, Nivea, Capital One American Express, and American Airlines, to name just a few. American Airlines, for one, has relished a double-digit increase in gay customers. These companies market to the gay community by customizing campaigns specifically for them. A major beer company sponsors concerts by gay musicians. Absolut vodka has targeted gays and lesbians with innovative marketing. Dominion groceries designed and produced advertising for gay publications. Dominion’s marketing is deliberately impudent, but it works, which means they put time and thought into it.
According to USA Today, in 2005, 175 Fortune 500 companies actively marketed to the gay community. Cities such as Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Phoenix instituted marketing programs designed to attract gays and lesbians to their restaurants, nightclubs and hotels. In other words, the cities lined up to attract the vacation money of gays.
From this information it becomes evident that appealing to the psychology of affluent homosexual customers is no different than appealing to affluent heterosexuals—except for one thing: gays and lesbians are proud of their sexual preference. And they want their sexual preference to be recognized and accepted.