Brands need to be ‘consistent’ in supporting LGBTQ+ consumers to build their trust, research suggests

Almost two-thirds (65%) of LGBTQ+ consumers expect the brands they buy from to support the causes they care about, according to Nielsen research.

London PrideBrands need to advertise beyond Pride month, June in the UK, to be seen as authentic when engaging with the LGBTQ+ community.

This, suggests Stacie de Armas, senior vice president of diverse insights and initiatives at Nielsen, can help brands foster long-term relationships with LGBTQ+ consumers, and avoid “rainbow-washing” accusations by only adding Pride symbolism to their brand messaging in the month of June.

Nielsen’s research shows 65% of LGBTQ+ consumers expect the brands they buy from to support the causes they care about. This is a higher figure than for Gen Z consumers (63%) and is significantly greater than the consumer population as a whole (54%).

Comparing advertising data collected in February and June, Nielsen found that only three advertising categories – wedding services, streaming services and pharmaceuticals – consistently included LGBTQ+ content across the two periods.

Durex’s global lead on why brands must be braced for backlash when supporting LGBTQ+ communities“The rest of the year sees very little of this inclusivity,” de Armas noted during a Nielsen-hosted webinar today (19 June). “It tells us that brands are concentrating their dollars and commitment within Pride month, leaving this void in the other months.”

Marketers were warned by de Armas that if you are “only jumping in with your creative in June, you are really not giving your brand the opportunity to grow with the community throughout the year”.

Megan Townsend, senior director, entertainment research and analysis for GLAAD, an American non-profit LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation, said brands needed to win loyalty by taking “supportive steps”.

These include creating inclusive policies for employees, speaking out publicly on proposed measures affecting LGBTQ+ communities in their sectors or geographies, and creating inclusive content and investing in LGBTQ+ creatives.

“We also want to make sure that that work and those values are carried through year-round,” she said. “Pride is truly 365.”

A 365 commitment

Townsend warned that brands who only seek out LGBTQ+ consumers during Pride month will find it difficult to cut through to their target audience.

“Because there is so much focus on advertising and trying to reach [consumers] in June, often all your efforts in that month are just getting lost in the wave of messaging.”

She noted there are other events in the LGBTQ+ calendar, such as Bisexuality Awareness Week in September and the International Transgender Day of Visibility in March, that brands often overlook.

“The best way for a brand to ensure they are not falling into any of those issues of rainbow-washing that may lead to a potential backlash is having that record of support for the community year-round through their advertising, their platforms, their statements, all the different touch points they have with their customers,” said Townsend.

She called on marketers to make sure they “are being authentic, moving past just putting a picture of a Pride flag” in ads.

The webinar suggested that advertising beyond Pride month was the first of three key areas for brands to focus on in building loyalty with LGBTQ+ consumers, alongside increasing brand outreach and investing in inclusive content.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of LGBTQ+ consumers will stop purchasing from brands that devalue their community, while 56% prefer to buy from brands that give back to the community, according to the Nielsen research.

“LGBTQ+ consumers specifically are looking for much more than products and creative advertising to look at,” said de Armas. “They want to spend their money on brands that walk alongside them and contribute positively to their community.”