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Beyond Pride Month: Building your brand with LGBTQ+ consumers

4 minute read | July 2024

In many countries around the world, Pride months bring a rainbow wave of brands showcasing their support of the LGBTQ+ community. While these efforts have been both praised and criticized, Nielsen research shows LGBTQ+ consumers are open to brand engagement that’s authentic and inclusive.

But what does authentic, inclusive brand engagement look like? 

According to Nielsen 2024 Annual Marketing Report, 70% of marketers reported planning to prioritize performance marketing over brand-building initiatives this year. With marketing dollars at a premium, brands need to understand where and how to invest to earn the good will of the LGBTQ+ community and demonstrate inclusivity well beyond June. 

Investing in inclusive advertising and content

Not surprisingly, audiences like to see themselves in the content and ads they watch. In fact, Nielsen research shows that 42% of U.S. adults say it makes them more likely to buy from a brand when they are represented in a campaign1. But among LGBTQ+ audiences.

And the feeling of misrepresentation can be even higher among intersectional identities like the Black queer community, with seven in 10 often feeling misrepresented.

There’s reason behind this sentiment. A recent GLAAD study found that 36% of LGBTQ+ scripted characters across broadcast, cable and streaming won’t be returning. For brands, supporting representative content through their advertising can be both an opportunity to demonstrate support of the LGBTQ+ community and resonate with this engaged audience. 

“We exist in all spaces in the real world, and so we should exist in all stories in all types of television and we know that inclusive content is a win for all audiences,” said Megan Townsend, Senior Director, Entertainment Research and Analysis at GLAAD, in a recent Nielsen webinar.

Understanding the inclusive ad landscape

To better understand how inclusive content is currently helping brands connect with LGBTQ+ consumers, we looked at four programs centering LGBTQ+ talent among their hosts or cast members and the brands that advertise within these programs. 

Karamo, a syndicated talk show distributed by local broadcast stations across the country, and Rachel Maddow, a cable news and commentary program, both feature LGBTQ+ talent on their programs and pharmaceutical companies as their top advertisers. Nielsen Scarborough research found that LGBTQ+ consumers are 62% more likely than the general population to request a specific drug be prescribed by their doctor as a result of a recent health care ad, and Black LGBTQ+ consumers are 59% more likely to make an appointment to see a doctor as a result of a recent health care ad.

But health care isn’t the only industry that is connecting with LGBTQ+ audiences. A home improvement brand is the top advertiser for My Lottery Dream Home—a good fit for the non-scripted real estate program featuring LGBTQ+ talent. More than a quarter (27.2%) of LGBTQ+ consumers report recently shopping for home improvement items online.

The next biggest advertiser for My Lottery Dream Home is a consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand. A CPG brand is also the biggest advertiser for RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition program featuring drag queens. The CPG space is competitive. Nielsen Scarborough research found that 38% of LGBTQ+ consumers agreed they are willing to shop multiple stores to find the best deals. To improve ad campaigns and beat out the competition, advertisers need the right data. 

Optimizing campaigns to resonate with LGBTQ+ audiences

For brands looking to connect with LGBTQ+ consumers, it’s important to do more than just show up in the right place. They need to show up at the right time—and that means beyond a single month. Brand support for the LGBTQ+ community beyond Pride Month is crucial to avoid appearing gimmicky or doing more harm than good and alienting communities with “rainbow capitalism.” 

Brands also need to ensure their messages resonate. Ads need to authentically represent the diverse identities of LGBTQ+ community and avoid stereotypes and caricatures. Our research found that 50.5% of LGBTQ+ audiences agree that avoiding stereotyping individuals in advertising and programming will help improve inclusivity. But ensuring genuine representation requires accurate data to inform your strategy.

Effective measurement strategies include and go beyond inclusivity metrics to understand audience nuances and make advertising more seamless. Consumer Insights, such as those from Nielsen Scarborough, are essential for understanding consumers’ mindsets and staying current with trends. And competitive data can help you understand how other brands are splitting their spend across channels or tailoring their creative to optimize your own media strategy. Nielsen’s Ad Intel solution monitors detailed ad spend from all the major players—industry by industry, program by program, month after month.

With the right data, brands can understand if they’re investing in the right place, at the right time and with the right messages to engage LGBTQ+ consumers throughout the year.  

Learn more about LGBTQ+ consumers in our recent webinar: Building brand loyalty with LGBTQ+ audiences.

Notes

1Nielsen Attitudes on Representation on TV Study, 2022
2Nielsen Attitudes on Representation Study, 2023

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