NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The gay and lesbian community may be hard to measure in size, counting for some 4% to 10% of the U.S. population, based on census data that counts only same-sex couples who live together. But measuring their media consumption just got easier for Group M's Mindshare, which released its first study on the gay and lesbian market, "Reaching Out," to clients this week.
Lisa Antonucci, Mindshare's director-business planning, said this was the agency's first deep dive into the gay market, and set out to quantify gay consumers' media consumption. She found the findings surprising and somewhat counter to her initial expectations. "We thought this was kind of a niche audience, reaching niche publications, but what the study really uncovers is these consumers are more in the mainstream."
Gays and lesbians were estimated by Harris Interactive to represent $690 billion in buying power in 2007 and expected to reach $835 billion over the next four years. Mindshare's study, which incorporates data from Forrester Research, Simmons and MRI, polled 1,452 consumers, 66% gay males and 34% lesbians. The survey sample skewed upscale ($86,122 average household income), Caucasian (86%) and without children under 18 in their household (89%).
Ms. Antonucci was also surprised to find gay consumers to be more tech-savvy than the general population. Gays and lesbians are more likely to have a broadband internet connection (86% vs. 53%), own a laptop computer (72% vs. 35%), own a DVR or Tivo (56% vs. 24%) and own a BlackBerry or other PDA (35% vs. 14%).
The abundance of devices translates to gay consumers' media consumption, as 68% of the study's respondents said they spend most of their free time on the web. TV viewing was a close second at 50%, followed by book reading (35%), music listening (19%) and reading newspapers and magazines (18% each). They're also more likely to multitask, as 39% of the total sample said they're also surfing the web while watching TV.
While on the web, gay men more than lesbians tend to be heavier users of online dating sites and chat rooms (34% vs. 8%), travel sites (49% vs. 29%) and adult content sites (74% vs. 7%). Lesbians favor gaming (20% to 9%) and purchasing clothing, footwear and accessories (58% vs. 48%).
Purchasing decisions also weigh heavily on quality of products (76%), the price of the product (72%) and the brand's reputation as being supportive of gay/lesbian individuals and causes (30%). It's that commitment to the gay community that respondents took most to heart in gay-inclusive marketers' ad campaigns as well -- 69% said companies did a good job targeting gay consumers because the company openly funds or sponsors gay/lesbian causes or events, while 54% liked how ads depicted gays and lesbians as part of the diversity of today's America.
Although Mindshare doesn't have a group dedicated to buying against the gay market, Ms. Antonucci said all of the agency's buyers will have some actionable data from the "Reaching Out" study to use in their future gay-targeted buys. "This gives very good direction on the type of media and the placement of media to target this group, and with significantly higher TV usage," she said.