Friday, February 17, 2006

Gay Buying Power Projected at $641 Billion

A study on the buying power of gays and lesbians was released this week, projecting that gay buying power will reach $641 billion in 2006 -- $31 billion greater than the year prior. If ever there was a business case for companies marketing their wares to the GLBT audience, this is definitely one.

Here's the press release on the research:

The total buying power of the U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) adult population in 2006 is projected to be $641 billion, according to the latest analysis by Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts (a division of The estimate was originally derived in a joint study by both organizations entitled, "The U.S. Gay and Lesbian Market." In 2005, the gay buying power projection was estimated at $610 billion, comparing favorably with the African American, Hispanic and Asian markets.

In sharing the 2006 projection, Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck- Combs Communications
said, "Estimating buying power is a standard business tool for companies and
policy decision-makers. This offers us a snapshot of the dynamic economic
activity of America's diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
population." Since 1993, Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. has provided expert
marketing communications counsel to Fortune 500 companies in their strategies to
reach the gay consumer market.

Witeck emphasized that "buying power does not equate with wealth nor can one infer that same-sex households are more affluent than others. We have seen evidence from researchers that gay men may earn slightly less than their heterosexual counterparts."
He added that, "the 2000 U.S. Census data on same-sex couples supports the conclusion, however, that gay populations are more concentrated in major metro areas, and less likely to live in rural areas -- a characteristic generally associated with higher than average income. Second, same-sex couples are less likely than their married heterosexual counterparts to have children, and they are more likely to have both partners in the workforce, factors which yield higher per capita household income, especially in the case gay male couples."

Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs Communications, added: "In today's competitive marketplace, it is no longer prudent for a leading corporation to ignore the buying power of the gay market. Marketers that do risk leaving market share on the table for others to capture."

Based on a range of population samples, the analysis benchmarks
between 6 percent to 7 percent of the adult U.S. population self-identify as
gay, lesbian or bisexual, or between 14 and 16 million adults. (Unlike estimates
of buying power for other populations, such as African-Americans or Hispanics,
the GLBT population is estimated only among adults over the age of 18 when they
are more likely to be aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For
other groups, the population total includes all ages.)

Justin Nelson, co-founder and President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ( ), highlighted the report's value: "In our partnership with American business leaders, we have seen first-hand the significant contributions the GLBT community make to our economy. Buying power is a valuable metric to signify the combined contributions that we make in the workforce, in the marketplace, and as investors. It is a measure that few can ignore."

"Buying power, we know, is one key signal of the growth and size of the vital GLBT consumer market," said Don Montuori with Packaged Facts. "In our report, we cite buying power as another term for 'disposable personal income,' which is the total after- tax income available to an individual to spend on personal consumption, personal interest payments or savings. According to economists, it roughly equals 86 percent of