Homosexual population a rich, tech-savvy gold mine for marketers: study

A majority of the gay and lesbian population surfs the web for news and spends its 'me' time online and watching TV simultaneously, according to the Mindshare study on media consumption habits.

The gay and lesbian community is a ‘gold mine’ for marketers, according to a Mindshare study conducted by the agency’s New York-based business and planning unit. The study uncovered that the gay and lesbian respondents (1,452 surveyed) between the ages of 18 and 64 were much more likely to invest in technology than heterosexuals, and that they have more disposable income and travel more frequently than the general population.

‘The gay and lesbian population has a lot of ‘me’ time, and can be reached in various ways especially through TV and the Internet. We found a lot of multitasking between these two channels, especially among gay males, so these are channels where they can be reached effectively,’ Lisa Antonucci, director, business planning, Mindshare, tells MiC. She adds that although the study was conducted in the US, there would be no major differences in media consumption or habits among the group in Canada.

More than half of respondents visited a newspaper website in the week prior, and nearly a third visited a magazine site. They also have an average of two hours of ‘me’ time on a typical weekday between 6 pm and midnight, with 68% of respondents spending this time surfing the web and 50% consuming TV programs at the same time. Half the respondents said they generally watch news or current affairs programs, while 38% watch dramas. A whopping 91% said the program, not the network, is their primary focus.

But does this mean that the gay population should be marketed to differently? It depends on the medium, says Antonucci. ‘We found that there was an ongoing dichotomy in that, while on one hand the gay/lesbian population wants to be seen as different or set apart from the general population, at the same time they feel that they’re not so different at all,’ she says. For instance, on TV, where the gay/lesbian audience tends to view both endemic and non-endemic programs, the networks are a general medium to reach them, ‘but for Internet and magazines, they want to be reached in publications and websites which are more specific to them.’

The gay and lesbian population is also more into tech gadgets than the straight population – laptop ownership is more than double than that of the straight demo. About 56% of those surveyed own a DVR (compared to 24% of heterosexuals) and 32% own a GPS device (compared to 7%).

When it comes to online activity, travel (including airline tickets, car rentals and vacation packages) accounted for the highest category purchase on the Internet, followed by books and clothing. This also makes travel companies the ideal marketers to target this population, says Antonucci.