June marks the beginning of Pride Month. Over thirty days, Pride Festivals pop up across the country in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and more, creating a series of local events where thousands of people are invited to come together and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Because there is so much built-in excitement and emotion attached to Pride Month, from a marketing perspective, June makes an excellent time to execute a campaign that communicates your brand’s inclusivity and successfully connects with the LGBTQ+ demographic (consumers that hold an estimated 9.7 billion to 1.4 trillion dollars of purchasing power in the US alone). The challenge, however, is tapping into this target demo authentically and memorably.
As we head into Pride Month, here’s everything you need to know about developing a marketing strategy that leaves a positive, lasting impression on your queer consumer base. We’ll begin by covering why Pride Month marketing is essential, and then dive into the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that will act as your ultimate guide for Pride Month marketing in 2023. Here we go.
WHY PRIDE MONTH MARKETING IS ESSENTIAL
Pride Month marketing is essential because it’s an opportunity for your brand to show empathy, creativity, and authenticity. Not only does the LGBTQ+ community make up a significant percentage of consumers worth marketing to, but the queer community is also a historically marginalized group that should be championed by institutions, your brand included. When it comes to empowering the LGBTQ+ community, you don’t want to be the company that misses out.
Pride Month is the ultimate opportunity to flex all of your muscles and create a campaign that truly stands out.
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE LEVERAGING PRIDE MONTH
As effective as Pride Month marketing can be, it’s crucial to know what not to do when you’re leveraging this time of year to drive business growth. Rule #1? Don’t be inauthentic.
Many companies have experienced first-hand that any kind of perceived inauthenticity can be detrimental to your brand image, as in the case of these 7 brands in 2022.
There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the LGBTQ+ community as a sizable part of your consumer base and creating marketing tactics that specifically target this audience; however, appealing to this demographic can be seen as problematic when companies are simply monetizing the rainbow (and other gay imagery) instead of demonstrating actual inclusivity— a practice otherwise known as ‘rainbow washing.’
WHAT IS RAINBOW WASHING AND HOW CAN MY BRAND AVOID IT?
Rainbow washing refers to a phenomenon in which companies “use or add rainbow colors and/or imagery to advertising, apparel, accessories, landmarks in order to indicate progressive support for LGBTQ+ equality but with a minimum of effort.”
It’s a type of performative activism, in which companies support a cause or issue to garner attention, support, or monetization from others rather than actually caring about making a difference in the cause.
The best way to avoid falling into this marketing mishap is by ensuring that your campaign checks off one, or all, of these things:
- BE PERSONAL.
- SPOTLIGHT GENUINE PRO-INCLUSION COMPANY POLICIES.
- INCLUDE A CALL-TO-ACTION.
- DONATE TO RELEVANT ORGANIZATIONS OR CHARITIES.
- DON’T IGNORE THE QUEER COMMUNITY THE OTHER 11 MONTHS OF THE YEAR.
EXPERIENTIAL PRIDE FESTIVAL MARKETING IDEAS FOR YOUR BRAND
As mentioned before, being personal is one of the best ways to avoid rainbow washing, which is why experiential marketing is the go-to Pride Month marketing strategy. The face-to-face nature of experiential marketing, via pop-ups, showrooms, marketing tours, mobile billboards, etc. can be extremely impactful, especially during a time when so many companies are executing their own campaigns.
Going beyond just branding your products or logo in rainbow colors for the month, developing an experiential marketing strategy shows you’re making an effort to meet and connect with your LGBTQ+ consumer base. This goes a long way.
ZARA WORLDPRIDE 2019: HYDRATE AND CELEBRATE
Take the case of Zara at WorldPride 2019. The brand made an appearance at the NYC Pride Festival with a glass truck display of rainbow water bottles. However, instead of simply adopting the rainbow aesthetic, the brand had Zara brand ambassadors on-site to hand out the JUST water bottles to the parade-goers, helping people “hydrate and celebrate” while meeting their LGBTQ+ consumers face-to-face and creating meaningful connections.
The practical (who isn’t thirsty on a hot summer day in NYC?) and interpersonal nature of Zara’s Pride Festival activation made all the difference: the brand played an active role in the festival, instead of superficially or overtly leveraging the hype to their own advantage, and that showed through in over 1M impressions.
Though Zara’s appearance at WorldPride 2019 is an excellent example, there’s no one size fits all to Pride Month marketing. In fact, a large part of what makes this time of year so exciting is that it’s an opportunity for brands to showcase their creativity by developing and executing unique marketing initiatives that truly resonate with an often misunderstood and historically marginalized group.
One of the absolute best ways to target your LGBTQ+ consumer base is through experiential marketing. The face-to-face and completely customizable uniqueness of experiential marketing is inherently emotional and genuine, and it gives you the chance to connect in real-time to your LGBTQ+ consumers, especially when you make an effort to appear at a Pride Festival with a contribution to the day/cause.
Interested in producing a brand activation this June? Reach out to our team.