By Debdyuti Roy
The depiction of sexual and gender identity in popular media has made significant strides in the last year. Diversity is being welcomed like never before, from American actress Hari Nef being Elle’s first transgender cover star to the installation of same-sex pedestrian crossing signals for Pride in London 2016. In India, the LGBTQ+ community is a marginalized population that has fought hard to be acknowledged. Although the Supreme Court’s Section 377 judgment in September 2018 decriminalized homosexuality in India, the fight for civil rights has just begun.
In this circumstance, a company that is vocal about its support for the community and demonstrates it in simple yet significant ways stands to win revenue and consumer loyalty from three directions:
- Those that identify as LGBTQ+
- Those who wish to be connected with diverse and inclusive companies and those who are LGBTQ+ allies
- Those who are still in the closet
However, in a world where authenticity is becoming increasingly essential to customers, companies must ensure that their Pride efforts are driving change and supporting LGBTQ+ issues at the same time. With the buying power of LGBTQ consumers approaching a trillion dollars, it’s no wonder that businesses are seeking to win favor and profit. However, far too many are doing so without regard for provenance or long-term goals. It’s also not functioning. Converse, IKEA, Lush, and American Eagle sold limited-edition goods this year, with 100% of the sales going to LGBTQ charities such as GLAAD, GLSEN, The Trevor Project, and the It Gets Better Project.
Others lacked clarity, provided pitiful percentages with limited maximum donations, or just went for the cash grab, indirectly referring to previous donations if pressed. These organizations perform important work and deserve all of the funding they can receive. However, LGBTQ customers are entitled to more.
What Brands need to keep in mind before marketing about the community?
- Recognize the community’s problems:
June is not the only month when Pride and Queer affirmations needs to be celebrated. Brands need to understand to not release only limited edition products but keep it casual throughout the year. It is important for the brand to make their customer feel validated being any member of the community.
- Recognize heteronormativity:
The notion that heterosexuality is the default or typical sexual orientation is known as heteronormativity. Cultural standards and gender stereotypes deeply established heteronormativity. However, as a brand, you must make a conscious effort to avoid it.
- Use gender-neutral pronouns when you can:
Gender neutrality goes beyond language; depending on your business, you may include it in the design of your products and services. This can be especially beneficial if you’re targeting younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials, who are less concerned with gender norms.
- Involve the Community:
You don’t have to develop a unique line of rainbow-colored items or run specific marketing campaigns to advocate LGBTQ+ concerns as a company. Getting people active in the community – not because of their sexual orientation, but because of their talent – is a fantastic approach to help them.
Being outwardly LGBTQ+ friendly used to be a very hazardous business choice in the past since it wasn’t recognized in the societal norm; currently, the tables have turned and there needs to be a significant effort made by brands to make it effective and supporting the community without any negligence.
Cover image by Soumyadipta Kundu