GAY MARKETING: Need or Nice-to-do? Discrimination or Diversity?

A special event was held at the University of Tilburg to discuss a widely ignored approach to marketing, namely the potential of gay/lesbian market segments. One of Europe’s leading Diversity experts, Michael Stuber, had included the marketing perspective from the beginning on and, as part of that work, had covered gay marketing through research and consulting. He was hence the perfect specialist to provide a holistic overview on the topic. Why Gay Marketing was needed at all was the fundamental question Stuber answered at the beginning of his seminar. Besides the benefits of holistic diversity work and the sheer existence of the market, he sees the most compelling case for gay marketing in the strategic value of the segment: Customers waiting and wanting to be served, and willing to honour credible moves with trend-setting impetus and lasting loyalty. However, he warns marketers to follow the wides-spread myths about the gay market and introduces his model that shows differences that are related to specifics of being gay or lesbian, namely the coming out process and the awareness for existing discrimination and inclusion. These may have different implications on consumer attitudes and behaviors, Stuber explains. One of those consequences relates to the perception of mainstream marketing and specifically advertisement which, in most cases, excludes the possibility of same-sex attraction and hence leaves LGBT consumers untouched. On the other extreme, gay or lesbian consumers can easily be put off by marketing that focuses too narrowly on assumed characteristics of homosexuals.Based on these and other considerations, Stuber talked the participants through an application of Diversity and more specifically LGBT differences across all areas of Marketing, the so-called 5 Ps. In each field, he provided samples of successful practices from companies who have effectively tapped into the potential of diverse markets. Consumers nowadays value open-minded, inclusive approaches from corporations. Hence, Diversity Marketing certainly represents one of the future developments of business.