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Courting LGBTQ+ consumers

Want to woo these big spenders?

Canada is home to a diverse population, including dynamic LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others) communities across the country. And as a consumer group, Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities have very deep pockets as they are responsible for $3.7 billion in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) purchases each year, which represents 4.4% of the country’s total FMCG purchases.

While LGBTQ+ consumers spend nearly the same amount on FMCG items as the total population (just 2% less, on average), manufacturers and retailers need to be aware of how these powerful consumers shop in order to develop effective strategies to reach them.

One key difference is where LGBTQ+ consumers live. More than 40% of LGBTQ+ consumers live in urban centres, compared with only 27% of the total population. Location plays a key role in consumer purchasing decisions and can define whether or not they have the storage space to stock up. Generally, consumers who live in urban centres are living in smaller spaces (condos and apartments), whereas those in rural areas are more likely to live in houses. Household makeup is another point of differentiation. More than one-third of households in Canada have three or more members; however, less than one-quarter of LGBTQ+ households follow suit. Additionally, there are significantly more one-person LGBTQ+ households (38%) in Canada than the total population (29%). Only 16% of LGBTQ+ households have children, compared with 27% for the total population. As retailers and manufacturers develop their sales and marketing plans, they should be mindful to not over-emphasize products for babies and children.

When LGBTQ+ consumers shop FMCGs, they spend more than half (53%) of their dollars in grocery stores, but that still leaves plenty of money to be spent in other channels. While their spending in traditional FMCG channels mimics that of the average Canadian household, LGBTQ+ consumers spend more than the average at select specialty channels. For example, LGBTQ+ consumers significantly outspend the general population in beauty stores, spending two times as much as the average Canadian consumer. They also spend 28% more at pet stores and 18% more in drugstores as they round out their purchases.

Since LGBTQ+ consumers shop more in certain specialty FMCG stores than the average consumer, it follows that this leads to increased spending on certain products, including hair and pet care products: 21% and 29% more, respectively. Aside from hair care, LGBTQ+ consumers also spend more on oral hygiene (15%) and shaving products (13%), making personal care a key category to authentically connect with this vital consumer group.

While LGBTQ+ consumers spend more in some areas of the store, there are also categories where they spend less. Desserts and baby care lead the way, with LGBTQ+ consumers spending 24% less. However, with the “Gayby Boom” underway and LGBTQ+ families catching up to the total population with small children (7% versus 11% for the total Canadian population), the baby care category may soon fall off this list.

As LGBTQ+ consumers are a vibrant part of communities across Canada, it’s important that they are represented, understood and heard in the FMCG shopping experience and not just during Pride Month. Retailers and manufacturers should revisit their LGBTQ+ consumer strategies on a regular basis and ensure they are fully represented in annual plans. However, for an inclusive campaign to have the desired impact, it should be conducted regularly, and a company’s overall branding should completely weave in the LGBTQ+ theme.

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer’s August 2018 issue.

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