For years many top brands have believed the population of “Q+” or queer people, those who lay somewhere on an increasingly fluid LGBTQ spectrum, is too small to provide a worthwhile return on their investment. But they’d be wrong. A rigorous study by Hornet and Kantar — the world’s premier gay social network and the world’s leading research and data consultancy group — has unearthed truly impactful results affecting the size and power of the LGBTQ community.
Hornet previously worked with Amfar and the John Hopkins School of Public Health on estimating population sizes for gay men.
Not only are more and more people per successive generation identifying as LGBTQ+ — 31% of Centennials, 20% of Millennials and 13% of Gen Xers, compared to 8% of Boomers — which is indicative of a seismic demographic shift, but this study’s results effectively double America’s LGBTQ population. Whereas lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans individuals make up around 7% of Americans (17 million people), “Q+” people, who often identify as heterosexual but live outside of heteronormative confines and are more aligned with LGBT people, themselves make up an additional 6% of Americans (roughly 15 million people).
While past studies have indicated the expansion of the LGBTQ community — and while Hornet had alerted advertisers to the power of the young, queer market before — never had the country’s LGBTQ population been estimated in the double-digits. It’s now apparent that our community makes up 13% of the United States. That’s huge.
That exponentially increasing population of LGBTQ people is something Sean Howell had witnessed first-hand in his work as the President of Hornet. Between 2012–2018 the app and newfound queer media company watched as genderfluidity grew from 7–17% of users. “We wanted to validate what we were seeing at Hornet and what was being reported,” he says, “so we looked at research firms and chose Kantar to really put rigor behind these numbers as well as add our own massive data points.”
Needless to say, the financial power wielded by the LGBTQ community cannot be downplayed. The community’s buying power in 2016 totaled $1 trillion — which is on par with African-American and Hispanic consumers in America.
Yet, still, ad revenue targeted at the LGBTQ community remains only a fraction of the totals seen devoted to other minority groups, and that is what has led the Hornet / Kantar study to dub LGBTQ people “the $1 trillion blind spot.” Results indicate that two-thirds of the LGBTQ+ population are frustrated by brands they feel treat them as an afterthought.
And that’s just not good business. Because when it comes to the numbers that really matter to marketers — the metrics that make discerning customers able to provide a return on their investment — LGBTQ people are early adopters, aspirational and forward-thinking.
“The proof is really everywhere,” Howell says, “and Hornet is a great solution to help brands make this crucial marketing shift.”
Check out this infographic on the Hornet / Kantar study on queer people (or head here to view as PDF under “downloads”):