An overwhelming majority of American adults say knowing that a company markets its products or services to gays and lesbians would have no impact on their purchasing decisions or attitudes about that company, according to a new national survey. While the results mirror the findings of a similar national survey conducted two years ago, they come at a time of increasingly contentious debate about the rights of gays and lesbians and their role in American life.
The survey conducted for FH Out Front, Fleishman-Hillard’s global gay and lesbian communications practice, also found that a majority of Americans would “do nothing” to support a boycott against companies targeted for promoting their products to the gay and lesbian community.
“We conducted the first survey in a dramatically different environment for gay and lesbian issues, yet the results from June 2004 were similar to the most current survey taken in May 2006,” explained Ben Finzel, co-chair of FH Out Front and a senior vice president in Fleishman-Hillard’s Washington office. “This year’s results confirm that outreach to this audience often makes good business sense. The similar results from 2004 to 2006 validate what we’re seeing every day: the gay and lesbian consumer is increasingly important to corporate America, particularly as savvy marketers look for unique ways to differentiate their products and services in an increasingly crowded marketplace.”
The overwhelming majority (82 percent) of those surveyed in 2006 indicate it does not matter to them if a company whose products they use on a regular basis also promotes them to the gay and lesbian community (virtually the same as 81 percent in 2004). In 2006, two-thirds of American adults surveyed (68 percent, virtually identical to the 2004 response of 67 percent) indicate that knowing a company promotes its products or services to gays and lesbians has no effect on how they feel about the company.
The 2006 survey also found that a majority of Americans (52 percent, up from 46 percent in 2004) would do nothing if an organisation launched a boycott against companies that market or promote products and services to gays and lesbians.
Although 7 percent of 2006 respondents said they would participate in such a boycott, more than double that number, 15 percent, said they would speak out against the boycott. In 2004, 9 percent of respondents said they would participate in a boycott, and 19 percent said they would speak out against the boycott.
“The consistent survey results on boycotts indicate that despite often significant media coverage, boycotts don’t really affect consumer purchasing behavior,” Finzel added. “This survey result is good news for the increasing number of companies focused on reaching the gay and lesbian community.”
More than three-fourths (78 percent) of respondents in 2006 indicated they personally know someone who is gay or lesbian (similar to the 76 percent response in 2004). The survey also found that those who personally know someone who is gay or lesbian are more likely than others to support companies that market to the gay and lesbian community.
Other research estimates the buying power of the lesbian and gay community at $641 billion annually. Common population estimates assume that as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population is either lesbian or gay, a community recognised as one of the largest untapped audiences remaining in the communications marketplace.