By Joe Harris
Despite lingering concerns about the nation’s economy, spending power among LGBT consumers seems to be moving at a clip, with some estimates describing a potential in excess of $800 billion a year available for companies looking to expand into new markets.
Steve Roth, an LA-based marketing specialist whose firm, OutThink Partners, tracks LGBT trends, told the Richmond (Virginia) chapter of the Public Relations Society of America that LGBT Americans are an attractive community—so to speak—because of such elements as brand loyalty, spending habits, buying power, and ability to influence mainstream trends. Although some parts of the LGBT market remain “hidden” from the mainstream, research shows that 6.8 percent of the adult population, or about 15 million Americans, are LGBT. Because less than 25 percent of them have children, there is more disposable income readily available.
In 2008, heterosexual U.S. married couples had an average household of income of $95,075. That compares with straight unmarried couples, whose income average was $65,685 per household—and $107,277 for same-sex couples. LGBT couples also have above-average rates of employment and education, and are 10 times more likely to dine out.
They likewise take more trips than the average U.S. traveler. Gays and lesbians spend more time online, and are early-adopters of new technologies. In addition, nearly half (48 percent) report that they keep up with the latest styles and trends, compared with 38 percent of non-gays.
Closer to home, “Nearly 28 percent of travel in South Florida has been related to the LGBT community—that’s huge,” Keith Blackburn, President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (GFLGLCC) told the Florida Agenda earlier this year.
The GFLGLCC, a 501 c (6) nonprofit, was formed in 2011 with a mission to “promote business and economic opportunities for the LGBT and LGBT-friendly community, and to serve as “an advocate and resource for all member businesses that promote equality.” For more information on the GFLGLCC, or to become a member, visit gogayfortlauderdale.com.