Companies Begin Marketing to Gay Market

ByABC News
July 26, 2000, 1:45 PM

July 26 -- If the gay and lesbian community can thank Dr. Laura Schlessinger for anything, it might be that the outspoken radio personality has shown how important the gay and lesbian market is to corporate America.

Dr. Laura, the controversial radio host who has characterized gays and lesbians as deviants and a product of biological error has seen much of her core advertising base diminish in the past few months.

Companies such as Xerox, GEICO and SkyTel Communications have all pulled their advertising from Dr. Lauras radio show, while Procter & Gamble has pledged not to advertise on her upcoming television program this fall.

That such mainstream companies are so concerned about losing the gay and lesbian market is proof of the communitys value to advertisers, say industry watchers.

A Valued Market

Companies are more interested in the gay market than ever, says John Aravosis, president of Wired Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based online marketing and consulting company and co-founder of Theyre treating gay and lesbian employees with more respect than ever, and theyre becoming more aware that anti-gay prejudice is wrong,

While the size and scope of the gay market is difficult to determine (since most market research reflects only those respondents who are openly gay), much of the research done to date shows that gay consumers often have more disposable income.

One recent finding by Simmons Market Research Bureau showed that gay consumers are two times as likely to own a vacation home, 5.9 times as likely to own a home theater system and eight times as likely to own a laptop computer than heterosexual consumers.

Loyalty Counts

Demographics aside, gay activists note the brand loyalty of the gay consumer is something that many companies would do well to attract.

The bottom line is that as a market we are very brand loyal when we make purchases, says Cathy Renna, spokeswoman for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD. The controversy over Dr. Laura has been the most obvious demonstration of our influence as a market.