When it comes to brand loyalty, the LGBT community has historically shown that we have no issue with demonstrating our pride in what we like and letting our wallets do the talking, whereas other demographics do not quite express their preferences in such a powerful fiscal manner. In fact, although the popular expression "put your money where your mouth is" has never officially been traced back to our community, my inner gay compass tells me that one of our tribe might have had some part to play in coining what has become a cliché in the world of marketing.
Talking heads tell us a great deal about how we like to spend our money, and they spend equal amounts of time, if not more, trying to figure out how to leverage far more of it in the name of helping us make informed decisions about how we utilize our gay dollars.
I am gay and brand-loyal, but I am also far more than a gay man with a wallet. Like any consumer, I expect the product to meet and exceed my expectations, and I find that being a consumer who happens to be gay makes me painfully mainstream, because every dollar is earned through hard work. I want a return on my investment.
One of the many things that make our community unique is a desire to see our fiscal force reinvested in our community and society at large. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to LGBT consumers, but I do believe that we were pushing for corporate responsibility and engaging in social philanthropy long before it became a mainstream cause célèbre.
Joe LaMuraglia, Manager of Communications for GMC, explains the GMC philosophy when it comes to the LGBT community:
The point I am trying to make is that the LGBT Community is one of the most diverse diversity groups. We [at GMC] take that diversity of interests into consideration when we plan our grassroots outreach. Simply being at a gay pride event isn't enough -- we need to spread our message of great products, diversity and inclusion at the company through various channels. ... We aren't just slapping an advertisement in OUT magazine and calling it a day. We do advertise for sure, but we are taking our outreach to the community at a grassroots level, and our approach is far from typical.
Taking an atypical approach to outreach and marketing is clearly not something that only GMC is doing, but I find it odd that the so-called experts in the marketing field, some of whom are part of our community, simply expect that flying a rainbow flag at a few high-profile events and attending a Pride parade will somehow move us to see them as not only gay-friendly but truly LGBT-centric.
I simply do not feel that it works that way, at least not for me. Instead, I believe that it is time to redefine and reinvigorate the collaborative effort and allow it to galvanize our community. We need to reach beyond the status quo and demand creativity. I do not want to only be told how important I am to a brand. I want to be shown, and I want to feel it with a sense of urgency, passion, compassion and, most of all, consistency that transcends a single purchase and instead builds an authentic relationship that speaks to an understanding that, like other consumers, we have kids, families and friends and, yes, we may have disposable income that some others do not. Nonetheless, I am more than a demographic, infographic or checkbook, and I therefore want to be treated as that guy who is looking for a quality product who, by luck of the draw and a fabulous twist of biological fate, just so happens to be gay.