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Unprecedented 22,000 person survey of gays and lesbians
Q-Notes readers took part in research effort that offers insight into ever-growing consumer segment

by Rich Ferraro

How queer media tastes vary: Lesbians like People, while gay men prefer The New York Times.
Q-Notes readers who took part in the online survey earlier this year conducted by Rivendell Media can now find out the end results of their efforts as the company prepares to make the data public.

After decades of social and political progress, who is the typical gay or lesbian consumer in the United States today? What are his/her prime motivators, regular activities or perceptions on any number of issues? The largest-ever survey of its type reveals new information about gay and lesbian consumers; information that can be used by marketers to target a loyal customer group that has not been fully engaged by corporate America. The survey, conducted by Community Marketing, Inc., includes psychographic and demographic information based on a national survey of more than 22,000 gay men and more than 10,000 lesbians.

Among the findings: there are approximately 1.3 million gay and lesbian households in the United States with children under the age of 18. Gay male and lesbian consumers are more likely to have used a Visa card than other Americans and to buy products from companies that treat their gay and lesbian employees well and that advertise in gay media. Although gay and lesbian publications were read most often by both gay men and lesbians, major national “mainstream” publications also fared well. The New York Times is the “mainstream” publication cited most often by gay men and People is the “mainstream” publication cited most often by lesbians.

Set for release this month, Community Marketing’s “2007 Gay Consumer Index” and “2007 Lesbian Consumer Index” reports provide the most comprehensive collection of gay and lesbian consumer data to date. “Our community has risen to the forefront among corporate marketing executives in recent years, but most campaigns have relied on a ‘shotgun’ approach to reaching various segments. This is mainly because in-depth cross sections of gay and lesbian consumer data have not been available,” said Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing, Inc. “These indices are a comprehensive and truly representative statistical picture of gay and lesbian consumers. They tell us who the U.S. lesbian and gay consumer is, including an unprecedented profile of the demographic and psychographic details of their motivations, issues and preferences.”

Among the specific findings: 80 percent of gay men and 79 percent of lesbians made a purchase with a Visa card in the past month, while 64 percent of gay men and nearly 56 percent of lesbians made a purchase with a MasterCard and 36 percent of gay men and 24 percent of lesbians made a purchase with an American Express card.

Among gay men the top three most widely read publications are community-specific titles such as The Advocate, Out and local LGBT publications, with The New York Times, Men’s Health and GQ as the top three most commonly cited “mainstream” publications; among lesbians the top three most widely read publications are The Advocate, Curve and local LGBT publications, with People, AARP The Magazine and Oprah Magazine as the top three most commonly cited “mainstream” publications.

Among both gay men and lesbians the top three most widely watched television networks (in order) were NBC, ABC, and CBS; for gay men the next three were FOX, Bravo and LOGO and for lesbians the next three were Showtime, FOX, and LOGO.

Sixty-one percent of gay men and 83 percent of lesbians have a pet (38 percent of gay men and 59 percent of lesbians have dogs, 28 percent of gay men and 51 percent of lesbians have cats).
Eighty-five percent of gay men and 85 percent of lesbians said that advertising in gay media favorably influences their decision to purchase products or do business with a company.
Eighty-nine percent of gay men and 92 percent of lesbians reported that the way a company treats its gay and lesbian employees impacts their decision to do business with that company, with the majority (52 percent and 59 percent respectively) saying this was strongly positive.
Eighty-eight percent of gay men and 91 percent of lesbians report that their purchasing decisions are favorably influenced by corporate sponsorship of LGBT events and participation in LGBT charities.

CMI Senior Research Director (and survey architect) Jerry McHugh notes that marketers who in the past have actively targeted the LGBT community most likely have only been reaching gay men, or half the market, with their campaigns and communications.

“Marketers and advertisers haven’t had the tools to understand that there is no single LGBT community in terms of consumer statistics. It is a diverse melting pot of people who cannot be reached with one type of campaign or communications channel for any targeted communications efforts from advertising to sponsorships,” said McHugh.

Gay men and lesbian survey respondents work in a diverse variety of careers, although both groups cited the same top two career fields: medical and education. Medical work was at the top of the list with eight percent of gay men and 15 percent of lesbians in this field. Second was education (six percent and nine percent, respectively) and third was accounting or finance for gay men (six percent) and legal or government sector for lesbians (seven percent).
With regard to family life, 46 percent of gay men and 65 percent of lesbians are partnered or live with a significant other. While 20 percent of lesbians have children under the age of 18 living at home, the statistic for gay men is much lower at five percent.

For gay men, the median household income is $83,000 per year (Gay singles $62,000; Gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80 percent above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, according to U.S. census data. Forty percent of gay men reported household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000 per year (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000), and 36 percent of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year.

A comparison of housing shows both groups very similar. Findings show that 61 percent of gay men own a home and 36 percent rent while 8.4 percent own vacation property and 9.3 percent own other property. Among the lesbian respondents, 69 percent own a home and 29 percent rent with 10.4 percent owning vacation property and 9.8 percent owning other property.

The survey was co-produced by Rivendell Media and sponsored by Absolut. Survey participants were solicited through over 75 widely distributed internet and print publications. These media partners contributed their survey participants into Community Marketing’s own proprietary survey panel developed since 1994, which includes respondents from many other leading event and media companies such as Advocate Magazine, OUT Magazine, Instinct Magazine, Curve Magazine, Gay.com, PlanetOut.com, GayWired.com and Q-Notes, among many others. Readers may subscribe to abstract summaries and updates of the Gay Consumer Index™ and the Lesbian Consumer Index™ by visiting www.GayConsumerIndex.com and registering for email updates.

Community Marketing will provide an overview of the full study findings on Sept. 24 as part of the Gay and Lesbian Market Symposium in New York City.

Details for the professional seminar are at www.communitymarketinginc.com.

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