Brands come out from the closet to target LGBT community

In the week the UK saw the country’s first same-sex marriages, some brands are developing campaigns to appeal to gay and lesbian consumers looking to tie the knot. The move is part of a wider effort by brands to target the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in an attempt to better represent their customer base and tap into a multi-billion sales opportunity

Moss Bros is targeting gay consumers for the first time in its 150 year history with a campaign featuring pop star Jaymi Hensley.

Menswear brand Moss Bros is displaying images of Union J band member Jaymi Hensley and his fiancé Olly Marmon wearing designs from its spring 14 collection in 80 stores across the UK. It is the first campaign from the 150 year-old company to target LGBT consumers. It claims it “overindexed” on gay and bisexual men last year in terms of social media activity.

A spokesman for Moss Bros says: “We’re keen to keep our advertising fresh and so have stepped away from the very classic weddings we’ve become associated with in previous years. The same-sex wedding market is a big opportunity for us. What’s interesting is rather than having one groom in the room now there are two.”

Stolichnaya is also using the historic legalisation of gay marriage to introduce a more inclusive approach after getting caught up in the boycott of Russian vodka as part of protests over the country’s anti-gay laws during the Sochi Olympics.

The distiller is developing a strategy that will see it target gay drinkers in future initiatives.

Meanwhile, VisitBritain is launching its first LGBT campaign, developed by gay and lesbian marketing agency Out Now Consulting, in four years with a “Love is GREAT” promotion targeting US travellers. The tourist board is hoping to exploit growing support among Americans for gay men and lesbians to have the constitutional right to marry in a bid to promote the UK as a culturally rich destination.

The UK LGBT community equates to around 4.5 million people worth £96bn annually, according to charity Stonewall. The market represents “significant” business opportunities to those brands targeting their needs, it says.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of consumers say they would be drawn to companies supporting LGBT groups, according to a recent survey by Nationwide Building Society commissioned earlier this year to identify how the financial sector can improve relations with the community.

Marketers have shied away from such targeted initiatives in the past for fear of alienating the larger, mainstream market. Brands in the US, however, have been quick to respond to changing attitudes. This was most recently reflected in Coca-Cola (see above) becoming the first Super Bowl advertiser to feature a gay couple in its TV ad earlier this year and Chevrolet running a similarly themed spot during Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic coverage. 

Sam Phillips, managing director at Omnicom Group’s ethnic diversity specialists OMG Ethnic, says the UK’s response to targeting gay consumers is more of a “slow burn” but adds marketers are waking up to the importance of reflecting diversity in their campaigns.

She adds: “Conversations with clients are still at early stages but they are starting to look more at diversity targeting. Marketers are asking whether being reflective of society is right for their brands and how that choice impacts their [marketing strategies]. You can’t follow in that direction because everyone else is. Cultural insight needs to be used to build trust with consumers looking for brands to be more culturally sensitive.”