In the second of two posts, Futures Company Youth Insights Director Rob Callender argues that the LGBTQ community in the US is a leading edge market worth close to a trillion dollars.

LGBTQ consumers have long been seen as early adopters and tastemakers, and a new study by The Futures Company confirms that they are indeed likely to be at the forefront of marketplace change. Our research shows them to be engaged, experiential and experimental consumers.

Likely to put money aside toward a once-in-a-lifetime experience/purchase in the next year (Top-2 Box)

Straight 47%

And they favor reinvention over convention.

Characteristics important to the way others see you: someone who is willing to defy convention (Top-2 Box)

Straight 44%

In short, these consumers display a boldness and risk-tolerance that is rarely satisfied with the status quo.

Recent estimates suggest the LGBTQ community controls more than $800 billion in buying power. But new findings from The Futures Company suggest marketers have been dramatically underestimating the size of this opportunity—a fair reckoning of the non-straight market puts it at more than 10% of the total population.

In addition to the roughly 5% of individuals who self-describe as lesbian, gay or bisexual, we’ve discovered another 6% who—despite calling themselves straight—show fluidity in terms of sexual identity, attraction and behavior. There’s a tremendous overlap between these “straight but not narrow” individuals and their LGBT peers in terms of attitudes and consumer behaviors. The Futures Company refers to this cohort, which lives outside the boundaries of exclusively straight life, as “Q” or the sexually fluid.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Q market skews young. Millennials and Centennials seem reluctant to confine their existence to the traditional either/or paradigm of sexual identity. This fact helps explain some (though not all) of the group’s more distinctive attitudes and behaviors. Marketers looking to help this long-overlooked and under-served community should focus on four major areas important to the LGBTQ community:

  1. Finances: LGBTQs report more financial uncertainty than the general population. Some of this is likely attributable to the segment’s youth skew. But LGBTQ-specific factors—such as discrimination and a historic lack of legal protection—are likely also at work here. How can marketers help this group understand and plan for a future that’s less turbulent and more predictable than the past?
  2. Status: Even as today’s young people seem less inclined to seek and telegraph prestige through aspirational brands, LGBTQ consumers remain highly brand-, status-, and image-conscious. What does this difference mean for the LGBTQ community—and to aspirational luxury brands?
  3. Family: Despite the segment’s youth skew, LGBTQs often describe more distant and stressed family lives than Millennials and Centennials as a whole. What can social marketers do to help understand and address this fundamental need?
  4. Well-being: This community reports more vulnerability and less engagement across a variety of health and wellbeing metrics. How can marketers offer this group a much-needed sense of personal agency and empowerment?

To see a copy of The Futures Company infographic on our LGBTQ reearch, or to request a copy of the report, please visit the website. The image is from the Gay Bride Guide store on Etsy, and is used with thanks. 



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