By Radha Subramanyam
Millions of Americans gathered to celebrate LGBTQ Pride last month, which also marked two years since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality. That historic June 2015 ruling legalized the new definition of family. In today's media landscape, brands need to follow suit. If they want to be successful, companies can no longer ignore the LGBTQ community in their advertising.
Companies that neglect to include LGBTQ representation in their advertising don't just risk alienating an important segment of the population; they risk alienating the majority of Americans. Today, nine in 10 Americans are "LGBTQ friendly" and open to seeing LGBTQ in advertising. In addition, one in three -- including over half of Millennials 18 - 34 -- identify as active LGBTQ allies who want to take a stand, further stretching the LGBTQ community's impact. From a marketing perspective, if you care about attracting the all-important Millennials, you must care about inclusivity.
These findings come from a primary research study that iHeartMedia recently conducted with Ipsos and Community Marketing, Inc. to quantify our reach and engage with the LGBTQ community as well as to offer insights into who they are, their media loyalties and their media usage. Our results show that nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ. Of course, that almost 10 percent also has intersecting social identities that include race, gender and more. That intersectionality means that LGBTQ cross over to other key segments of the population such as African-American.
In addition, the research shows that they are educated, affluent and most likely living in a city, with a higher concentration on the West Coast, than the general population. Ninety percent hold college degrees vs. 70 percent of the general population, and the average annual household income for LGBTQ people is $65,000 vs. $57,500 for the general population.
When it comes to how they spend that income, music and pop culture are critical to their social lives and broadcast radio and live events are key mediums that connect with LGBTQ consumers. In the last year, eight in 10 LGBTQ consumers attended a live event and nearly 65 percent attended a live music event. Overall, they believe live music events are critical to their social lives and create positive emotional ties to music and recording artists.
Their love of music extends to what they're listening to in their cars and homes. Broadcast radio reaches 90 percent of the LGBTQ population each week. Surprisingly, radio's reach even surpasses media focused solely on the LGBTQ community. They listen to radio 67 percent more than they view any LGBTQ dedicated TV channel, 56 percent more than they read any national LGBTQ magazine, 40 percent more than they read any regional LGBTQ newspaper and 18 percent more than they visit any LGBTQ-specific website.
Even with all the new streaming music options, broadcast radio is a vital component of LGBTQ daily life. Two in three members feel connected to radio stations like 102.7 KIIS-FM in Los Angeles or WGCI-FM, Chicago's Hip-Hop and R&B station. That same number also feel radio is a great way to discover new songs and artists and believe that radio keeps them connected to their local neighborhoods and cities. Like many radio lovers, they feel a strong connection and long-standing relationship with their favorite radio DJs, who they view as relatable/regular people like themselves. LGBTQ members also engage with a wider variety of music genres than the general population.
This strong connection can be a great opportunity for diligent marketers. Radio is in a unique position to connect forward-thinking brands to the hundreds of millions of Americans who identify as LGBTQ, allies and LGBTQ friendly. iHeartMedia and our on-air personalities continue to work closely with our LGBTQ listeners and allies, including supporting GLAAD's Spirit Day, partnering with local Pride Month events and launching iHeartRadio's digital Pride Radio Network as well as its broadcast stations in Austin, TX; Minneapolis, MN; St. Louis, MO, and most recently Philadelphia, PA.
Radio has another added benefit. It allows all consumers to fill in the blanks with their own context. As a result, radio -- with its theater of the mind -- offers more room for diversity than does visual media. Take for example an ad highlighting last night's family dinner. With other media, an advertiser might be forced to define exactly what that family looks like and exactly what they ate for dinner -- and it may not be what their consumers have in mind. However, with radio, you can just say family and someone will fill in their definition of the word, whether it's headed by a single parent or a two-family household consisting of two moms or two dads. That ability to let consumers imagine equals advertising that is automatically less exclusionary.
When it comes to marketing, brands should not just market to what America truly looks like in the 21st century -- they should also take Pride in that marketing.
Appeared first in Media Village
Radha Subramanyam is President of Insights, Research and Analytics for iHeartMedia. She is a seasoned media and entertainment executive with a significant track record as a thought leader in Media Research and Consumer Trends. She is one of the few executi... read more