LGBT Market Research: There is a difference.
Market research studies and resulting statistics are meant to help marketers understand the LGBT communities, and influence educated decisions about their strategies and tactics. However, not all research is the same. Community Marketing & Insights’ (CMI) methodologies and experience are distinct from those of others when considering approaches, survey respondent sources—and ultimately—the validity and utility of sought-after results.
WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?
Community Marketing & Insights has developed our proprietary consumer panel over the past 20+ years by circulating field surveys at leading LGBT events, and by partnering with LGBT organizations and media across the USA, Canada, the UK, and around the world. These partners distribute our survey invitations via print ads, web banners, social media and email broadcasts to their memberships and/or readers. The resulting panels are highly representative of LGBT consumers who interact with the LGBT community and media. This is important: If your communications channels are via the LGBT media, you’ll want to depend on research that represents these consumers’ interests, preferences, sensitivities and motivations. CMI research is trusted by—and frequently quoted in—the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Ad Week, Forbes, Newsweek, The Guardian, Shanghai Daily, NPR, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, CBS News and others across the U.S.A. and around the world.
Other panel providers typically send out widely distributed panel invitations (via Yahoo, etc.), and then sort for those who trust the researcher enough to indicate that they are gay or lesbian in the context of a survey; problematic at best. This academic approach, attempting to “represent the gay community at large,” may be appropriate for some studies, but not those exploring LGBT-directed advertising and marketing. Some “panels” are simply email lists from adult dating websites! Seriously. Other times, a marketer might ask “sexual orientation” in the context of a general market study, which many LGBTs may be reluctant to indicate for a wide variety of reasons. Ultimately, these panels and methodologies are not likely to represent community members who are interacting with the media, organizations and events where LGBT marketing messages are placed, thereby skewing data and potentially misdirecting marketing investment.
IN RESEARCH, SIZE DOES MATTER.
CMI has conducted over a hundred LGBT-dedicated research studies since the early ‘90s, covering a wide variety of topics, industries and interests. We both observe and influence the trends of this market. Size does matter in the case of research. Our research panel has grown to over 70,000 qualified LGBT consumers, the largest of its kind, by far. A recent LGBT Community Survey study resulted in over 45,000 completed surveys, making it the largest such study in history. We leverage our long history/experience/expertise for your benefit, and fine tune our portfolio of research panels, methodologies and approaches to best match your market intelligence goals.
Without access to this enormous resource of qualified LGBT consumer panelists, other companies have to compromise on the quality and demographic representation of the panel, or “reinvent the wheel” at your expense. One cannot fathom the diversity and complexities within LGBT (see below) on a small sample. And with small samples, you loose the opportunity to derive statistically significant cross tabs on gender, geographical location, age, income, experience, product choice, etc. Can you really make the assumption that a 28 year old lesbian in Seattle has the same purchasing motivations and behaviors as a 67 year old gay man in Atlanta? Generalities and sweeping statements based on comparatively small samples can distort the results of research findings, potentially wasting your investment of time and resources.
DIVERSITY: THERE IS NO “LGBT MARKET”
Community Marketing & Insights emphasizes that there is no “gay market,” just as there is no singular “Asian market.” The LGBT communities represent a broad and dynamic variety of interests, sensitivities, preferences and priorities. Those, plus variations in geographical location, age, income, relationship status, gender, sexual identity and more, make it even more important to discover which opportunities within LGBT will help you achieve your goals. Fine tuning your approaches based on highly refined and well-targeted matches within LGBT will make your outreach initiatives more efficient and cost-effective, and will significantly improve your marketing ROI.
General surveys on “the gay market” are likely to only scratch the surface of the diversity and varieties of opportunities marketers can enjoy if properly explored and understood.
TWO SIDES OF THE COIN: QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE
CMI takes pride in operating the most consistent, longest-running series of LGBT community surveys in the world. But we don’t stop there. Quantitative (data) research is one important side of a coin, but only tells half of the story. The other side of a comprehensive research initiative involves qualitative research, most notably derived from focus groups. We pre-qualify our focus group participants from among our survey panelists, identifying the best candidates based on characteristics such as age, gender, relationship status, geographical location, and even a propensity or history of using the client’s products or services. We maintain sufficient numbers of panelists to conduct groups in most major metro areas across the USA, Canada and Britain, as well as several secondary markets. We’ve found that the same creative, tested in different regions, often yields substantially differing results. Isn’t it wise to know that—and adjust your plans—before investing in marketing campaigns? CMI is the only LGBT-dedicated research provider that develops and facilitates LGBT focus groups and other qualitative research options. We have produced and reported on focus groups covering a wide variety of topics, plus, we have facilitated advisory boards, virtual focus groups, multi-year customer satisfaction survey projects and field studies that can round out your comprehensive market intelligence plan.
Running only online surveys, other research companies are telling half of the story. Without actual consumer interaction, they cannot fathom the deeper insights hiding behind the bar graphs and pie charts, nor can they adequately advise you on the sensitivities and complexities that are only uncovered in qualitative research… extremely important considerations that assumptions based only on data averages are likely to miss.
WE DON’T OUTSOURCE!
Community Marketing & Insights maintains our own research panels and utilizes advanced, sophisticated research software. We do all of our research in-house, because nobody knows this market segment as well as we do. We never sell or rep another company’s services, nor will we outsource your project to a 3rd party.
Some firms work as representatives of research companies, or outsource clients’ projects, and report on the results of the 3rd party’s work. But without being intimately involved in every aspect of the project, from discussing the client’s goals and designing the study, to building the survey, implementing it and writing the report, and without engaging directly with consumers in focus groups, it is difficult to gain the insights that can only come from CMI’s hands-on LGBT research specialization over 20 years.
Community Marketing, Inc., founded in 1992, pioneered LGBT consumer research. Because we are LGBT-owned and -operated and well known in the community, we have earned the recognition and trust of our survey panelists. LGBT consumers recognize that we use research data to build corporate relationships, which ultimately lead to better conditions for LGBT employees, social progress, and sensitive communications.
PROUDLY LGBT-OWNED AND -OPERATED
One of the questions in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index application is whether the applicant company includes LGBT-owned suppliers when procuring products and services. When you contract with Community Marketing, you not only gain the benefit of our long-standing leadership in this field, you are working with one of the only LGBT-owned market research providers. Community Marketing, Inc. is a National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce-Certified LGBT-Owned Business Enterprise.
CMI is involved in the LGBT community: we volunteer time, donate resources and raise funds for numerous community-based organizations. We also participate in the community’s leading business and advocacy organizations, events and conferences, such as Out & Equal, HRC, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, GLAAD, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, etc. This community connection is not only the right thing to do, it is essential for initiating appropriate relationships for our clients.
You’d think that with this kind of specialization and experience, you’d be investing considerably more for CMI research than for studies from other companies. But it is due to our specific focus on LGBT market intelligence, and the cumulative 50+ years of dedicated LGBT research among the CMI team, that we can actually keep your costs low. We are not spending your money to locate qualified survey or focus group participants, nor are we spending our time (or your money) trying to source comparative data or case studies. We’ve done all that over the past 15 years for your benefit. And we are not running a large operation that juggles many accounts and projects of differing scope and focus. CMI’s client dedication and market specialization delivers you superior intelligence at a fraction of the cost of other firms.