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The value of the ‘pink pound’: Unlocking a trillion dollar market through recruitment

By Andrew Barratt , head

Ogilvy & Mather Group UK


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May 7, 2015 | 5 min read

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It is estimated that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) consumer market is worth over a trillion dollars globally, with an estimated $790bn value in the USA alone. This has sometimes been coined the ‘pink pound’ or the ‘Dorothy dollar’.

An LGBT audience can be a loyal and affluent consumer group for brands. Despite this, LGBT consumers are still massively underrepresented in mainstream marketing campaigns. Whilst there are some brilliant examples of brand campaigns celebrating LGBT individuals - such as AirBNB, Burger King, Tiffany & Co and Google – for mainstream brands, these number only a handful. This is despite new data from Google and YouTube which shows that messages about diversity and equality for the LGBT community have widespread impact; 47.7 per cent of millennials are more likely to support a brand after seeing an equality-themed advert. A key to increase LGBT inclusion in mainstream marketing, and other minority groups more generally, is to have a more diverse workforce.

A new proposal

Recently, Tiffany & Co launched a TV advert that features a same-sex marriage proposal. The ad, created by Ogilvy New York, features a number of couples building up to asking their significant other “Will You?” - the tagline of the campaign.

It marked the first time the company had featured a gay couple in its advertising during its 178-year history. The reaction to the campaign on social media was overwhelmingly positive, and the brand successfully broadened its appeal through representing a diverse range of marriage proposals and weddings.

A more diverse workforce

To increase inclusion in content marketing and advertising campaigns, there is a crucial step that stems in the recruitment and people who create the work in agencies. The more diverse our workforce, the better able we are to respond to and reflect our audiences in all their diversity. In order to achieve this, advertising agencies needs to create a working environment that enables all employees to thrive and achieve their full potential.

However, diversity is more than just a buzzword for the advertising industry. It can hold the key to fostering new ways of thinking, reaching out to a wider range of customers and growing your business.

Organisations can't thrive and grow if everyone in them thinks and behaves the same way. Having a diverse workforce with people from different racial, educational and social backgrounds and employees of a wider age range opens up a wealth of possibilities and helps to encourage creativity and foster innovation.

The financial value of diversity

By correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes as reported by respondents, the Harvard Business Review learned that companies with greater diversity innovate more and out-perform others. Employees at these companies are 45 per cent more likely to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70 per cent likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.

There's also a clear competitive advantage from employing a diverse workforce. An organisation with a diverse range of employees is well placed to understand the needs of a wide range of customers, and can interact with a broad client base. It is also in a good position to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly diverse and competitive labour market. Embedding diversity throughout an organisation also means that talent can be properly recognised and nurtured - wherever it may be.

Increasing diversity in advertising and marketing

The advertising and marketing industry are making good steps towards improving LGBT diversity, however there is still more that can be done. We need more senior LGBT role models to come out, and foster an environment in agencies where people can be their authentic selves.

Ogilvy & Mather Group UK is committed to diversity. In 2014 we set up Ogilvy Pride, our LGBT and straight ally network. Since then, Ogilvy & Mather Group UK is the first communications agency to become a Global Stonewall Diversity Champion and to be recognised by the Human Rights Campaign as a top employer for LGBT people – two achievements that we are extremely proud of.

Andrew Barratt is head of Ogilvy Pride UK. He will be speaking at Digital Shoreditch's ‘#MarketingTogether – the invisible trillion dollar market’ event on Tuesday 12 May at 17:10 in Shoreditch Town Hall.

Follow @ogilvyUK for updates on this talk and LGBT in advertising.

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