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LGBTQ+ representation impacts advertising

November 29, 2022 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

When brands connect to consumers through advertising content, it has an impact beyond selling products. Consumers are highly aware of what brands say, and what corporations do to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pragmatically, inclusive marketing makes sense, but how well is “purpose” integrated into the brand experience? A new report, LGBTQ+ and the future of CX from DISQO and Do the WeRQ, explores how people factor brand purpose into their purchase journey decisions.

DISQO and Do the WeRQ surveyed more than 9,000 people to explore the consumer experience with LGBTQ+ advertising content.


LGBTQ+ is the fastest-growing minority segment in the U.S., with an estimated $1.4 trillion in annual spending. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) used U.S. Census Bureau data to estimate that at least 20 million U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+. That’s nearly 8% of the adult population. Additionally, about 21% of Generation Z in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.

Getting involved 

This research shows that nearly three-quarters (74%) of people believe brands should get involved in social issues like DE&I, racial equality, gender equality, and social economics. Brands involved in diverse communities are recognized by consumers. Approximately 37% of participants in this research recall seeing LGBTQ+ ads outside of content made specifically for the community. Forty-seven percent of participants recall seeing ads within LGBTQ+ content. Those identifying as LGBTQ+ are more likely to recall seeing ads in content made for them (57%) but are less likely to recall seeing them in mainstream content (33%).

Almost half of those surveyed (46%) agreed or strongly agreed that advertising is adequately inclusive. More than half (52%) said LGBTQ+ ads felt “authentic.” Notably, 64% of people identifying as LGBTQ+ agreed that ads depicting their community felt authentic. However, older consumers are less likely to say that more LGBTQ+ content should be created.

Consumers recognize that brands are influential, and many want to see them exercise this power in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Eight in ten (81%) participants identifying as LGBTQ+ said that brands have some or a lot of influence. Close to half report that brands are essential in bringing about LGBTQ+ progress.

When asked if they ever think about a company’s social and political activities when making a purchase decision, 85% said they did. Less than 15% of people said they never considered this when purchasing.

Generationally, those under 44 years of age are more likely to align a brand’s social influence with their wallets: 18-24 (58%), 25-34 (58%), and 35-44 (57%). Further, 22% of those under 24 said they “always” think about where a brand or company stands when making purchase decisions, 24% for 25-34 and 25% for 35-44. The percentages decline as age increases, with only 12% of people 65+ saying they have these considerations.

Targeting content to LGBTQ+ is growing; this year, fewer people report “not seeing” any LGBTQ+ advertising versus last year (7% versus 20%). The line of cultural margins is shifting, and representation across media platforms offers more racial equality, gender equality, and social economics. LGBTQ+ visibility goes far beyond shout-outs in June. More representation of LGBTQ+ in advertising shows consumers that you see and value them.

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