Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court made decisions on two highly debated cases. The justices found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that denied gay married couples federal benefits, unconstitutional, and declined to rule on Proposition 8, effectively allowing gay marriage in the state of California. The decisions were paramount to those vying for gay marriage rights.
Political opinion aside, what do these decisions mean for marketers? Our recent report on the LGBT consumer shows that the LGBT consumer segment is growing quickly in influence. The number of Americans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered has grown over the past decade, with 4.3% of the non-Hispanic adult population identifying as LGBT today, compared with 3.4% in 2006. And these consumers are younger and more tech-savvy than their heterosexual counterparts: in fact, gay/bisexual men and lesbian/bisexual women are more likely to be considered technology “Wizards,” the Mosaic USA segment identified as those for whom technology is integral to their way of life.
Along with the growth in LGBT identification, the rate of gay marriage has steadily increased, as more and more states are allowing same-sex marriage within their borders. In 2007, when only Massachusetts allowed same-sex marriage, 8% of adult gay men and 14% of adult lesbian women said they were married. Today, 17% of gay men and 16% of lesbian women are married. With yesterday’s rulings, both of which favor the expansion of gay marriage rights, many advocates argue that this trend is likely to grow in the next few years.
So why is this important? The married LGBT consumer is highly influential and is gaining more influence every day. Our research shows that many gay men have money and a propensity to spend it.. Specifically, married gay men have the highest household income, compared with their heterosexual and lesbian counterparts. More importantly, married gay men have the highest discretionary spend per capita, meaning that they have more money to spend on non-essentials. In fact, gay men live in households that devote $6,794 per capita annually to nonessentials, which is $753 more than what heterosexual men spend. This is an important insight for marketers looking to identify and engage what can be a profitable consumer segment.