In many ways South Africa is a first world country. However when it comes to the marketing of brands and services to the gay community, South Africa is still in the stone ages.
In recent years, a number of major ad categories have targeted Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) markets around the world. These categories include travel, financial services, alcoholic beverages, automotive, entertainment, hair and skincare, luxury goods, pharmaceuticals, and fashion. (For example, American Airlines have launched a specific LGBT-targeted vacations website.) While over fifteen years old in the United States and Europe, LGBT marketing is a relatively new marketing phenomenon in South Africa.
The ABNSA Gay Consumer profile that was commissioned in 2008 is the largest of its kind in South Africa, its findings showed that roughly 10% of the South African population is gay. This amounts to just over 4.8 million people.
Of the 15 000 respondents that completed the survey, 76% of the respondents said they were more aware of advertisements that specifically targeted gay people. Plus, 96% of respondents paid more attention to gay ads and ads that identified with them as a market segment and 92.5% said they would consciously support advertisers who made use of gay publications or media.
The term ‘DINK' (Dual Income No Kids) was coined for this demographic. This means that the gay community tend to have more disposable income. They are also early adaptors, eager to try new brands and set trends. The ‘Pink Rand' is a considerable segment of the South African market and is known for its superior spending value.
So why then are corporates so afraid of this lucrative market? Various factors include: fear of the unknown, potential damage to brand image and alienating their heterosexual customers, negative stereotypes and then simply pure ignorance of the market and its potential.
I was recently asked by a strategist of a large media agency: "Why would one consider sexual orientation as a planning factor?" My response to her was: "Well, when you are deciding on a target demographic one would consider age, sex, psychographics, geographic, income, education etc etc...so why not sexual orientation?" This audience must be considered as an equal and viable market, just as you would any other.
This does not place gay consumers in a vacuum; they do form part of the community. I merely want to demonstrate that gay media titles should be considered as a ‘lifestyle' medium for possible advertising and marketing.
This being said, no consumer is more particular about the images and messages used in marketing than the gay community, which is why it is important to have the help of a knowledgeable niche media sales agency, such as Lunch Box Media, to assist with smooth integration and appropriate messaging. change the focus from sales to education in the hope that educating the media agencies and marketing/brand managers would lead to an increase in sales.
This has happened, but very slowly.
This kind of agency can provide clients with a comprehensive marketing mix of advertising. This includes print, online and social media; as well as unbiased advice and expertise as to how to enter this lucrative market.
Donovan Steyl is the owner of Lunch Box Media which was formed in 2009 and brought together like-minded media owners, whose publications target the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender markets, to help mainstream brands communicate with these communities. The agency does not take an agency commission. Steyl can be reached at email@example.com