Promote with Pride

By Eric Samuel Green, Vice President, Executive Creative Director, Charming Charlie


June is Pride month for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community, and many retailers are raking in big $$$ during this time by celebrating diversity and being inclusive. Christmas still remains the most important holiday for both retailers and marketers, but Pride month is slowly becoming a mainstream retailer’s key chance to gain the LGBTQ consumer, part of a group whose spending power is estimated at $1 trillion. It wasn’t that long ago when companies were afraid to cater to the LGBTQ community for fear of consumer retaliation. Suddenly, giant retailers, such as Target and Nordstrom, are spending major marketing and merchandising dollars targeting this consumer.

Here are a few tips to show your LGBTQ support as a brand or retailer:

1. Get Creative with Color
Develop creative and ads that use LGBTQ colors in unique and clever ways to stand out from competitors. Maytag advertised an appliance technician holding a half-cut cake featuring rainbow layers with a message that read “Equality And Cake For All.” LGBTQ consumers have an emotional bond with colors of the rainbow and appreciate innovative uses that aren’t so literal. Absolute Vodka has done a great job in applying unique rainbow executions to its liquor bottles in honor of the LGBTQ community. Apparel retailers can show support and reduce inventory risk by creating merchandising displays with existing primary colored products consolidated together as a singular idea to signal LGBTQ support. Visual merchandisers can create colorful displays using primary colored candy showcased in apothecary jars at front of store or in-window to attract this customer.

2. Keep It Real
Depicting authentic, everyday LGBTQ consumers in realistic settings is highly appealing. LGBTQ consumers object to ads that use idealized versions of LGBTQ consumers, as often seen in travel and credit card ads featuring models with perfect bodies, hair and fashion styling. Marketers must show more than one perspective of the LGBTQ community, which includes all ages, races, sizes and ethnicities. MAC, Levi’s and Stoli have all created impactful campaigns showcasing the diverse LGBTQ community. Social media and in-store videos are the perfect place for brands to show more range and tell authentic and unique stories about this community. Brick-and-mortar retailers can encourage customers to post and hashtag their brand while in-store to obtain free products, special invites and exclusive promotions.

3. Remember To Be the Brand
It is important to stay focused on communicating your brand’s proposition and value while showing your support. Simply showing LGBTQ faces without substance is meaningless. A brand must clearly articulate how its product directly supports this community in an authentic way. While LGBTQ consumers are excited to see LGBT advertising, the content can often overshadow the brand message. Advertisers need to balance LGBTQ content and the brand message. Brands should use this opportunity to highlight what makes them special, unique and great.

4. Inclusiveness Isn’t For Everyone
Brands must be ready for social media rants and hateful posts. Case in point: the banking giant Wells Fargo created a National Family ad a few years ago featuring a couple (two women) who were in the process of adopting a child. This was part of the bank’s #WhyIWork campaign. There were a few negative voices from people who didn’t share their corporate values and beliefs, but the few did not represent their broader customer base. Positive reactions substantially outweigh any negative in these circumstances.

Either way, Pride month is becoming big time for LGBTQ marketing. From clothing to dinnerware, the LGBTQ community is being targeted by companies that are trying to make it clear that they are on your side, fighting your fight, and hope you will spend your money in appreciation of that. Don’t miss this opportunity to acquire new, loyal customers—the LGBTQ community will show you a pot of gold on the opposite side of the rainbow when you support your LGBTQ employees and are present in their communities.

Eric Samuel Green has worked with top brands such as C. Wonder, Burberry, Gap, Cole Haan, Neiman Marcus, Limited Brands and The North Face. He currently is the executive creative director for Charming Charlie. His life mission is to change the intimidation and stress associated with design, which he is doing through his new book, “Style Made Simple: The 10 Steps To Decorating With Style.”

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