How about: 'Don't question pink profits'?
Many brands now actively target the gay community, as even the most conservative execs have come to realise that there's just too much money to be made from well-to-do, happy-to-spend GLBT consumers. And merely acknowledging consumers who sadly are used to being ignored if not vilified, does wonders for brand loyalty.
So how much money (PINK PROFITS!) are we talking about here?
According to PR and marketing firm Witeck-Combs, the buying power of US gays and lesbians will exceed USD 835 billion by 2011. Witeck-Combs' report for this year pegs the 2006 buying power of gays and lesbians at USD 660 billion, an amount that will increase significantly as the gay and lesbian population, estimated at 15.3 million, grows to a projected 16.3 million in 2011. For more numbers, check out their report.
British gays—accounting for around 6% of the population, or about 3.6 million—pocket an estimated USD 130 billion annually. Openly gay men in full-time jobs earn USD 18,000 a year more than the male national average. For lesbians, the premium is USD 12,000. (Source: Out Now Consulting, April 2006.)
Advertising | Let's first (briefly) highlight gay-friendly advertising, which for most companies is a first step towards more inclusive product development. From Time Magazine (August 2006): “Advertising in gay-oriented outlets is flourishing. Beverage companies like Anheuser-Busch, holiday firms including Travelocity and automakers such as Ford helped nudge advertising spend in the US gay and lesbian press to USD 212 million last year, up more than a quarter since 2003.”
To get started, or to further hone your GLBT advertising skills, check out Commercial Closet Association, a New York City-based group that counsels firms on smarter representation of gays in advertising, and has numerous overviews of gay-inclusive ads and commercials, including the nominees for the Images in Advertising Award 2007.
Now, back to product and service innovation:
Construction | Brazilian civil construction firm Tecnisa hired a GLBT market consultant three years ago, training sales teams to sell to the GLBT segment. As a result, 12% of Tecnisa's total sales now come from this segment. As anyone entering this field will quickly find out: a little respect for the gay audience goes a long way in terms of loyalty!
Publishing | There are thousands of gay blogs and sites, but even in this field, there's room for innovation: check out stylish He Said Publications, a new local ezine that targets the gay community and covers cool new restaurants, nightclubs, art and boutiques in Denver. Taking a cue from successful 'must do/must buy' entities like dailycandy.com (and we all know how much they made when they sold part of the business last year), the company has just launched HeSaidDallas and HeSaidSeattle. Gay Chic, anyone?
Retirement & communities | Many gays and lesbians reject the traditional retirement community lifestyle. After years of living freely, they don't want to move back into the closet. So make way for the following alternatives:
RainbowVision has developed gay and lesbian retirement communities in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Palm Springs, California.
Currently under development, Paradise One Condominiums is part retirement community and part upscale condominium, "a progressive community that is as Straight-Friendly as it is Gay Friendly."
Stonewall Communities' vision is to develop and offer a range of options for older GLBT people. Stonewall Audubon Circle, currently under development, will be open to anyone regardless of race, colour, national origin, religion, familial status, age, handicap, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
The Resort on Carefree Boulevard bills itself as Southwest Florida's premier lesbian destination, with a mixture of full-time and holiday residents ranging in age from 40 to 85 years, both working and retired.
Despite its name, Finnish Mummolaakso ('Grandma Valley') is a solidarity group open to women of all ages, with most members aged between 30 and 60. The organisation aims to provide healthcare and terminal care for lesbians and bisexual women, with the ultimate aim of providing retirement housing services, too.
Banking | This one sounds like it could do with some upgrading within (and expansion outside) North America: every time a Rainbow Card owner charges an item, a portion of the transaction goes directly to the non-profit Rainbow Endowment. The Rainbow Endowment awards grants to organisations that provide social and health services, advocacy and educational information to the GLBT community, such as the National Lesbian and Gay Health Association and the AIDS Information Network. Rainbow Endowment has given nearly USD 2 million to these organisations since 1996. The Rainbow Card is available from Bank of America in the US and from MBNA in Canada.
Insurance | My Way Versicherungen claims that 80% of German insurers offer homosexuals limited benefits when it comes to health insurance, disability insurance or partner benefits for life insurance. Gay applicants are often automatically marked as high-risk, with high premiums to match. Which is why My Way's all-gay/bi/lesbian team specializes in better conditions and better service for gay customers and their partners. No doubt a similar issue outside Germany, which means yet another business opp.
Automotive | GayWheels is a gay-friendly automotive resource, providing information about gay-friendly car companies and facilitating commerce with gay-friendly companies during the entire buying process. GayWheels rates various brands for gay-friendliness, something that will increasingly happen in other industries, too. After all, this is the age of TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY. Or how about UK-based Pink Pound leasing, an established car leasing company that offers its gay customers peace of mind in a sometimes prejudiced environment, something GayCar (the competition) aims to do as well.
Telco | “Over and Out: Så er det slut. GAYmobile findes ikke mere. Et eksperiment er ovre og det gik ikke så godt.” Sadly, Danish GayMobile is no longer. The mobile virtual network operator targeted Denmark's approximately 250,000 gay consumers with “a service that's gay all the way." Besides telephony, think Kylie Minogue and Sylvester ringtones, and wireless same-sex dating. Perhaps the market was too small: who's going to try this in the US or UK? And if that's still too risky, then which major, cash-rich operator will step in, not for revenue reasons, but for branding's sake?
Gay community and travel | Definitely one of the most developed 'pink industries', there's a bewildering number of gay-friendly and gay-only travel companies out there. Not to mention every country, city and village trying to lure gay visitors. So a brief list of some of the leading companies in this field—to study or emulate—should do:
Olivia, the travel and lifestyle company for lesbians, is a leader in lesbian cruises and resort packages and is also creating an online community.
Atlantis Events is the largest gay and lesbian tour operator in the world, operating all-gay cruises and resorts.
R Family Vacations caters to the non-party-scene, offering relaxed family-friendly cruises for the gay and lesbian community. Kids are welcome, but not essential.
RSVP Vacations offers a selection of gay-friendly and gay-welcoming package holidays and cruises to must-see destinations worldwide.
Orbitz.The online travel company offers a comprehensive range of airfares and rates for accommodation, car hire and other holiday essentials in its gay and lesbian section, with discounts on fares to pride events and charity auctions supporting GLBT community charities.
American Airlines Rainbow—AA has a dedicated GLBT sales team, offering special discounts on air fares to GLBT events.
Pink Choice is the gay and lesbian equivalent of tripadvisor.com, reviewing hotels, B&Bs and other forms of accommodation.
Damron publishes guides for gay travellers, with five annual publications and site listings of tour operators and GLBT events.
Same-sex marriage | With same-sex marriage now legal in countries like Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada and South Africa (and many more countries accepting civil unions, domestic partnerships or registered partnerships), a whole new cottage business is springing up. Two well-designed examples, one from Spain, one from Denmark:
BY is Spain's first shop for gay wedding clothes. Located in Barcelona, its designer wedding threads are made to order. Customers can choose from designers like Delgado Buil, Ion Fix, Juanjo Oliva, Locking Shocking and Helena Rohner.
When it's time to pick a ring, Danish Carbon de Luxe is a strong contender for PINK PROFITS. A new Danish jewellery brand, it designs diamond jewellery specifically for (male) gays. Objects come with a twist: cufflinks can be turned into piercing jewellery, while the bracelet can be turned into something less 'SFW'.
Home improvement | Coming soon in the UK, Pink Paint, a website to pair gay homeowners with gay and gay friendly tradesmen. One to build out and then sell to Yellow Pages? ;-)
TV | Gay networks are popping up all over the world, perfect for getting your pink products in front of the right audience, reaping those PINK PROFITS. Here's a list of gay networks to watch:
Logo is MTV Networks' channel for "Gay America." Series include Curl Girls, Prom Queen and The Big Gay Sketch Show. Launched in June 2005, the channel is now available in 27 million US households. Logo tripled its revenue in 2006 vs. the first six months since it launched in 2005. For the first half of 2007, advertising dollars are up 60% compared to the same period a year ago.
Outzone TV: owned by NBC Universal, this is Bravo's broadband channel specifically for the online gay community. Launched in June 2006.
Here! is pitched as “Gay Television. No Apologies.” This cable and internet-TV network was launched in 2002 and is available across the US.
GAY-TV is an Italian satellite channel that's also available online, featuring lifestyle programs aimed at gay men.
Pink TV is a French pay TV station broadcasting gay-centric television 24/7, throughout France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Launched in October 2004.
Canadian OUTTV was the world's first 24-hour GLBT television network. Launched in 2001.
Q Television Network began in late 2004, and “ceased regular operations as of February 2006, amid allegations of corporate thievery and management incompetence.” Just to remind you that in the end, it's not just about ideas, but good execution, too ;-)
Launching this fall, Timm is the first German television channel targeted at gay men.
Also kicking off this fall, Out.TV is a Dutch gay lifestyle channel based on Canadian Out.TV, which will feature music, news, fashion, travel, a dating program and drama.
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