LGBT+ History Month: The Importance of Inclusivity in Marketing

31st Jan 2023

Read time: 9 mins | Author: Enzo Lempereur, Digital Marketing Executive

February marks the start of LGBT+ History Month, and it’s an important time to recognise the importance of inclusivity when it comes to marketing. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a huge shift in how companies and brands are addressing the LGBT+ community. From rainbow-coloured products to targeted LGBT+ marketing campaigns, it's clear that businesses are starting to recognise the value of including the LGBT+ community in their messaging. In this article, we will explore the history and impact of LGBT+ marketing and its importance for businesses today.

Understanding the LGBT+ Community

The LGBT+ community has a long and varied history. In the early 20th century, gay and lesbian people were often subjected to stigma, discrimination, and persecution due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. This resulted in an underground culture of people who formed their own communities and support networks. Despite this, they continued to face prejudice and discrimination which limited their rights and freedoms.

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 marked a turning point in the struggle for LGBT+ rights and ushered in a new era of visibility and activism. In the decades that followed, more and more people began to come out, advocating for their rights to be recognised and protected.

Today, the LGBT+ community is more visible than ever before and continues to make progress in gaining greater acceptance and equality. The community encompasses a wide variety of identities and orientations, including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, pansexual, asexual, queer, intersex, genderqueer, genderfluid, and questioning. Each of these groups is united by the shared experience of facing prejudice and discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.


Why Inclusion is Important

The LGBT+ community makes up a significant portion of the global population and their inclusion in marketing is an essential step to creating an inclusive society. By recognising the importance of the LGBT+ community, brands can build loyalty, trust and support among these groups. Additionally, acknowledging and celebrating diversity helps to combat discrimination and prejudice in our communities.

Including LGBT+ people in marketing helps to normalise same-sex relationships and other gender identities in the media. By creating campaigns that feature LGBT+ couples and families, brands can send a powerful message of acceptance and equality. Representation also allows for greater understanding and acceptance of gender identities beyond the binary.

Furthermore, inclusion helps to diversify advertising and make sure that no one is left out or excluded. In a world where LGBTQ+ rights are still not universally accepted, marketing that includes these groups helps to spread visibility and awareness. This helps to create a more inclusive society where everyone can feel seen, heard and respected.

What Happens When Brands Get It Right

When brands take the time to create inclusive campaigns that recognise and celebrate the LGBT+ community, they can often see great results. It shows that the brand is willing to stand up for inclusivity and show that they value their diverse customers. In a study done by the advertising firm Havas Group, 83% of LGBT+ respondents said they felt more positive towards a brand that had an inclusive ad campaign, while 65% said they would recommend the brand to friends and family.

Not only can brands benefit from the positive sentiment generated by inclusion, but LGBT+ consumers will often reward those companies with their business.

According to a report by Gay Star News, more than two-thirds of LGBT+ people are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies who promote inclusivity. Brands that are committed to inclusion can expect greater brand loyalty from their LGBT+ customers, as well as higher sales from both LGBT+ customers and allies.

In addition to increased loyalty and sales, brands that get inclusion right will also experience better relationships with their customers. When consumers feel seen and valued by a company, they’re more likely to spread positive word of mouth about them, boosting their reputation and helping them to attract new customers. All of this adds up to one thing: greater success for the brands that make a commitment to inclusivity.


What Happens When Brands Get It Wrong

When brands fail to include or be respectful of the LGBT+ community, it can have a serious impact on their public image. The most common mistake made by brands is to assume that everyone fits into the traditional gender binary, and thus create marketing campaigns that are unresponsive to the needs of the LGBT+ community. This type of exclusionary messaging can be seen in everything from advertisements to the product packaging and can lead to a backlash from both consumers and activists.

In addition, when brands take steps towards inclusion but fail to go far enough, they run the risk of appearing performative or insincere. This can lead to further criticism and boycotts of their products or services. In recent years, there has been an increase in public shaming of brands that use LGBT+ pride flags and symbols for their own gain without providing any meaningful support for the community.

Finally, brands that make incorrect assumptions about the LGBT+ community can end up inadvertently offending them. For example, marketers should avoid using outdated language such as “gay lifestyle” or making assumptions about people’s gender identity and sexuality. It’s important to remember that every person’s journey with gender and sexuality is unique and should be respected.

Making mistakes when it comes to marketing to the LGBT+ community is inevitable, but by educating ourselves and being mindful of the needs of this community, we can work towards creating a more inclusive future.

How to Make Your Marketing More Inclusive

Here are some practical steps to making sure your marketing materials and campaigns are more inclusive:

1. Do Your Research: Take time to educate yourself on the history, issues, and challenges that the LGBT+ community faces. This will ensure that you approach marketing efforts with an understanding of the struggles they face and how your business can best serve this community.

2. Represent Diversity: Make sure that you represent diversity within the LGBT+ community in all of your marketing efforts. This includes including people from different backgrounds and identities, so that all members of the community can see themselves represented in your campaigns.

3. Use Inclusive Language: Always use language that is respectful and inclusive of LGBT+ individuals and communities.

4. Support Causes and Events: Showing support for causes and events that are related to the LGBT+ community is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity. Look into sponsoring events such as Pride parades or fundraisers for organisations that work towards equality for LGBT+ individuals.

5. Speak Out Against Discrimination: Speak out against discrimination whenever you see it, whether it’s online or in person. If you witness discrimination against LGBT+ individuals or communities, make it clear that it is not acceptable and take action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are inclusive of the LGBT+ community. In doing so, you’ll not only create an effective and successful campaign, but you’ll also be helping to promote inclusion and acceptance for all.