It’s Hip to Be Gay – Brands That Support LGBT Find Fiercely Loyal Customers

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the announcement that surprised no one.

No, I don’t mean that Tom and Katie split, although, that was no shocker either. I’m referring to the news that CNN host and silver fox himself, Anderson Cooper came out as gay.

On his previous silence, AC said, “It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true. I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”

Interestingly, this comes on the heels of several brands embracing the LGBT community and finding a fiercely loyal and often highly monied customer base.

This month alone, we’ve had the Oreo Cookie Gay Pride image they posted to their Facebook page. No, it is not a real cookie, although many have asked Kraft and Oreo to release the rainbow cookie in stores. The image was created and posted to Oreo’s official Facebook page in celebration of Gay Pride month.

The picture of rainbow deliciousness quickly went viral and generated more than 231,000 likes, and nearly 40,000 comments.

Of course, there was some backlash, but Kraft and Oreo stood their ground and earned some very loyal fans.

“Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. We feel the OREO ad is a fun reflection of our values. There has been a lot of buzz about the image, and it shows how relevant OREO is to people even after 100 years,” said Basil Maglaris, associate director of corporate affairs for Kraft.

And, today Facebook announced, the site is adding marriage icons that depict same-sex couples. This follows last year’s addition of “In a Civil Union” and “In a Domestic Partnership” options to user profiles.

The social networking site has also taken significant steps towards preventing anti-LGBT bullying, creating the Network of Support with GLAAD and other LGBT organizations in 2010.

And, they aren’t alone.

Earlier this year, Starbucks released a memo supporting gay marriage. There were protests, of course, but Starbucks didn’t back down and has seen no losses thus far. Also, this year, The Home Depot was boycotted by some for providing employee benefits to same sex couples. The American Family Association web site proclaimed, “AFA is promoting a boycott of Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in the homosexual culture war.” The pledge condemns The Home Depot for giving “financial and corporate support to open displays of homosexual activism,” because this helps expose “small children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals and cross-dressers.”  In response to the pledge, which was delivered at Home Depot’s annual shareholder meeting, Chairman Blake responded, “We are, and will remain, committed to a culture that fosters an inclusive environment for our associates, our customers and communities in which we exist.”

A smart decision because the simple fact is, your own political or religious preferences aside, supporting the LGBT community is good for business.

A national survey conducted last year found that nearly three-fourths (74 %) of LGBT adults are likely to consider brands that support their cause/community, an increase from January 2007 when 62 % reported they were likely to consider those brands. A significant portion of these adults, two-fifths (41 %) say they are extremely likely or very likely to consider these brands.

When it comes to workplace policies, nearly nine out of ten (87 %) LGBT adults say they are likely to consider a brand that is known to provide equal workplace benefits for all of their employees, including gay and lesbian employees. More significantly perhaps, nearly half (49%) of LGBT adults say that they are extremely or very likely to consider these brands.

Brand loyalty appears to be more important than price in certain situations for LGBT people. Seven out of ten (71 %) LGBT adults said they are likely to remain loyal to a brand they believe to be very friendly and supportive to the LGBT community “even when less friendly companies may offer lower prices or be more convenient.”

There also is a significant portion, (23 %) of LGBT adults, who say they have switched products or service providers because they found a competing company that supports causes that benefit the LGBT community.

But, it’s not just the LGBT community’s support in play here. For the firs-time ever, an overwhelming majority of all Americans support issues like gay marriage and they are increasingly voicing their opinions through the brands that align with the cause.

So, good for Facebook and Oreo and every brand that takes a positive stand on this issue. It’s not only good humanity, it’s good business.


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