Gay and lesbian consumers prefer fuel-efficient cars, account for 5% of new car purchases and have average household income in the six figures — more than that of heterosexual households, according to a recent marketing survey.
So it’s little surprise that General Motors ran a gay-themed advertisement last month for the Chevrolet Volt, the type of car studies show gay and lesbian consumers tend to like.
GM didn’t count on the ad drawing national attention.
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First published for $750 in the Motor City Pride edition of Between the Lines, a Michigan gay and lesbian newspaper, the ad ended up being viewed 11 million times through social media.
“This was a good omen,” said Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of the magazine. “They put their toe in the water, and it worked out really, really well. If anyone’s really paying attention to it, they would say, ‘Wow, this is an untapped market.’ “
Car companies mostly advertise directly to the gay community in small niche ways, but some experts say the greater general acceptance of the community and the success of the Volt ad could mean more of the marketing is on the way.
“If it’s a manufacturer’s desire to bring in wealthier, better-educated, younger customers, then the lesbian and gay market would be an avenue to that demographic,” said Chris Travell, vice president of consulting for Maritz Research, which surveyed 200,000 consumers in 2011 and found that gay and lesbian households made 10% more money.
The Volt ad “told us that this was something worth undertaking when the opportunities present themselves,” said GM spokesman Tom Henderson.
Nissan corporate communications director Travis Parman, who completed a 333-page master’s degree thesis on the LGBT community, said the ad may signal a gradual return of gay-themed auto advertising that was virtually suspended during the Great Recession about three years ago.
“As the economy starts to come back, people become more confident in investing in the niche media again,” he said.
With the trademark gay rainbow colors striping the Volt ad, it reads, “Whatever revs your engine, we support you 100%.”
A caption above the Volt pictured in the ad
This article originally appeared on: http://www.freep.com/article/20120716/BUSINESS0101/207160358/1014/rss13