ANA Report: Brands lose customers by caving to anti-LGBTQ+ pressure. Here are four tips marketers should know

Published on September 05, 2023

Consumers are less likely to support brands that back away from LGBTQ+ advertising due to right-wing criticism, according to a new study from The Association of National Advertisers. While a very small but vocal minority tried to “make Pride toxic’ this year in an attempt to drive a wedge between brands and LGBTQ+ consumers, the study indicates strong consumer support for brands that don’t back down in the face of these attacks.

The study found 32% of all adults are less likely to support a brand if they back down from LGBTQ+ advertising, compared to only 18% of all adults who are more likely to support brands that bend to anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.

For every consumer who supports brands that back down from LGBTQ+ advertising, there are two consumers who would withdraw support from that same brand.

The study found this holds true in even the most conservative areas of the United States, and the net loss grows exponentially with Gen Z and Millennial consumers. 

1 in 5 GenZ’ers (20%) and 1 in 10 Millennials (11%) identify as LGBTQ+. This massive demographic is a huge consumer segment, with $1.4 trillion in spending power. They prefer to shop at companies that align with their community and have proven to respond better to targeted LGBTQ+ advertising over mainstream marketing.

Four tips for marketers: 

With the knowledge of this growing market’s spending power, and with extremists expected to continue using LGBTQ+ people as political pawns ahead of the 2024 election, here are four things marketers need to know: 

1. Most Americans support advertising that includes LGBTQ+ people

2. Most brands stood by the LGBTQ+ community with vocal support and continued program sponsorships, and they faired well. 
Interpride, which represents 375 global Pride organizations, reports that sponsorships were up 20% YOY. Studies found that brands willing to stand by LGBTQ+ people amid criticism can help increase consumers’ opinions, trust, and interest in purchasing from them. 

3. Brands that gave in to anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment lost support with both LGBTQ+ people and consumers overall. 
A recent article in Fast Company titled “Bud Light poured decades of LGBTQ allyship down the drain – and now everyone’s mad” detailed the fallout from the “culture-war panic,” saying that “the beer marketer has possibly thrown out decades of goodwill and soured the audience of drinkers it needs to woo.”

4. Research from the Association of National Advertisers shows standing with the community and not backing down wins more consumers.
The study found that for every consumer that supports brands that stop their LGBTQ+ advertising efforts, there are 1.8 consumers that would withdraw support from those brands for acquiescing to anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. This net loss grows exponentially with GenZ and Millennial consumers. 

How to Move Forward 

Despite brands worrying that LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing might put them in the middle of a culture war, it’s been proven that allyship at this vital time not only develops brand loyalty but protects brands from losing even more customers who disagree with the loud minority. 

Here’s what we recommend when it comes to navigating this current climate: 

  • Continue supporting the LGBTQ+ community with direct marketing, as most companies currently are. It’s good business. 
  • Focus on direct marketing with LGBTQ+ media, avoid programmatic with LGBTQ+. This reaches the audience most interested in your brand’s efforts, compared to wider-reaching channels that open up campaigns to less-friendly audiences. 
  • Work with partners like Q.Digital, GLAAD, and HRC to craft a marketing strategy that fits your brand values and can help articulate the position. 
  • Look to ANA guidelines on working with Diverse Owned Media companies. 
  • Stick with it, knowing the vast majority of consumers are pro-LGBTQ+ and support LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing. 

Want to learn more? Connect with Q.Digital to review LGBTQ+ advertising best practices and case studies.  

Q.Digital ranks #1 in Comscore for all LGBTQ+ digital media. 
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