More marketing aimed at gay consumers [USA TODAY]
The gay market is drawing attention from:
•Companies. Travel industry-related firms from United Airlines to Travelocity have stepped up their marketing to gays. ABC Carpet & Home in New York has a gay wedding registry for same-sex partners. Wal-Mart (WMT) offers seminars to employees, called "Why Market to Gay America."
At American Airlines (AMR), managers George Carrancho and Betty Young head a team that markets to gay travelers and small businesses. The airline sponsors community events and offers a gay-oriented website (www.aa.com/rainbow) with travel deals, an e-newsletter, podcasts and a gay events calendar.
American has focused on gay consumers since 1994, when a gay manager persuaded former CEO Robert Crandall that gay travelers were an untapped market. Crandall agreed. Since then, the company has enjoyed annual, double-digit revenue growth for gay customers.
"We're committed to this market," Carrancho says.
•Cities and tourism bureaus. In years past, local governments and tourism offices — aside from San Francisco and a handful of other cities — "politely ignored" gay travelers and businesses, Roth says.
Now, dozens of cities and convention bureaus are going all out to lure gay visitors. They're spending millions of dollars on print, TV and online advertising. They're showcasing cultural and film festivals, gay parades and gay-friendly hotels and restaurants.
In Miami, tourism officials — downplaying Florida's old image as a retirement site — use splashy travel literature and commercials to showcase the region's nightlife, museums, the performing arts and ethnic neighborhoods. They work closely with the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, whose travel guide reads: "Miami: Diversity Celebrated Daily ... Come feel the vibe."
"Gays are good for business and good for our community," says George Neary, director of cultural tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The partnership works."
•Mainstream marketing. Many more businesses engage in crossover marketing, advertising not only in gay media outlets, but also mainstream ones.
Frances Stevens, founder and publisher of lesbian magazine Curve, jokes that the new ads are much classier than the old ones, which featured brawny, hairy men toting beers.
Advertisers are much more sophisticated about the buying habits of gays and lesbians. They know, for instance, that many lesbian couples live in the suburbs, raise children and are very loyal to particular brands, whether cars, cellphones or clothing.