Pride in 2022: what consumers want, and how brands should respond
Advertising around Pride has a history of getting it wrong all too often. Brands can do better, says Mony Sen, insight executive at Roast (part of the Tipi group). Here, Sen tells us how.
Roast considers how brands can act more holistically when it comes to marketing around Pride
Rainbow color logos, special-edition products, colorful parades: it’s June again, the month when LGBTQ+ Pride is celebrated. This year marks the 53rd year since the first Pride event in New York City following the Stonewall Riots.
Pride month is now being celebrated worldwide, and various laws have been introduced to support LGBTQ+ rights. But politicians aren’t the only ones responding to the Pride movement. Businesses have in recent years been appealing to LGBTQ+ audiences during Pride.
While some brands are genuinely supporting the community, others have been accused of ‘rainbow washing.’
As with any marketing campaign, consumers want brands to be authentic and practice what they preach. In the case of Pride, where empty gestures seem frequent, it is easier said than done. So, what do people expect from brands this Pride month? And what can brands do to support the LGBTQ+ community this June and beyond?
Our research partner, GlobalWebIndex (GWI), ran a survey of 10,000 people asking for their thoughts on Pride 2022 and brands’ support for the LGBTQ+ community. This survey covers eight markets; Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.
Consumers want to see brands creating or engaging with LGBTQ+ initiatives outside of Pride month
Although this has become a common understanding over the years, companies working on LGBTQ+ initiatives outside of Pride month are still an exception rather than the norm.
According to GWI, 67% of respondents agree that brands should support the community year-round. Initiatives for LGBTQ+ people also help engage consumers, especially those in the community. More than 50% of respondents say they engage with brands’ initiatives occasionally or most of the time, and about 14% say they have never seen any initiative outside of Pride month.
How can brands use this opportunity to engage consumers throughout the year?
A common initiative emerging in the last few years has been to establish an employee resource group dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+-related activities. This group acts as the voice of LGBTQ+ customers and employees, coming up with initiatives and projects that advance the cause. For Gap Inc, this means helping with the organization of Pride parades or providing resources for same-sex couples.
Supporting LGBTQ+ employees and influencing a positive change for the community are among the top actions consumers expect to see from brands.
When it comes to initiatives, consumers want companies to be proactive in many ways.
Around 34% of respondents want brands to create an inclusive work culture to support LGBTQ+ employees. 29% want brands to incorporate diversity and inclusion in advertising all year round. The lack of outliers in the data shows there are many ways to contribute, and consumers expect more than mere donations to charities.
Great examples of brands amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ+ community are Apple and Coca-Cola.
Every year, Apple releases a special edition of its Apple Watch band in support of Pride. The brand also donates regularly to LGBTQ+ organizations. In March 2020, it signed an HRC letter opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that would take away rights and medical care for the LGBTQ+ community.
Coca-Cola works to update its culture and policies every year to stay resourceful to LGBTQ+ employees, and it expanded its health insurance offering to cover the needs of transgender people.
Supporting LGBTQ+ people means becoming the voice and force to push forward long-term changes that support their rights and freedom.
Consumers want brands to take part in educating people about LGBTQ+ issues
Brands voicing support for Pride should be respectful, supportive and modern.
Support for Pride goes beyond changing logo colors. Consumers expect brands to take an active part in enabling change. When brands voice their support for Pride, 46% think those brands are supportive and respectful; 35% say they are modern.
When asked how brands should support Pride month, most respondents (45%) want them to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues and misconceptions. 39% want brands to show a more accurate and positive representation of LGBTQ+ people.
H&M’s ‘Beyond the Rainbow’ campaign is a great example of a brand promoting a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community through personal stories. H&M built a web app and an interactive augmented reality (AR) experience that allows users to access campaign movies and videos by scanning any rainbow flag. Users can also share their own Pride story with their Instagram filters. This gives a platform for people to share and hear real-life stories from the LGBTQ+ community.
An era of endless information and connectivity allows brands to engage with many people in a matter of seconds, but it also comes with intense scrutiny. Pride marketing campaigns should be genuine and supportive. But most important of all, they should not be a pillar on their own but complement what the brand is already doing.
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