Mainstream advertisers strike gold in gay market

July 04, 1992|By Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- Prestige Ford of Garland, Texas, advertises to the gay community. And sells cars.

Absolut advertises to the gay community. And sells vodka.

The list goes on. National and local advertisers increasingly are targeting gay and lesbian customers -- not because of "political correctness," but because the ads sell products.

This growing interest by mainstream advertisers has & 2/3 strengthened gay-oriented media and is bringing more demographic analysis of the gay audience and the growth of other marketing vehicles, such as catalogs.

Just as the black and Hispanic markets previously emerged as powerful specialized customer niches, the gay community is gaining note as an economic force.

"It's an overlooked market," said Albert Loftus, a salesman at Prestige Ford. The market has huge potential, he said.

Three years ago, Mr. Loftus moved to Dallas from New York, where he had been active in gay politics. With the job in Garland, however, he decided to approach politics more conservatively and concentrate on business.

A successful car salesman, Mr. Loftus said, must sell about 20 cars a month. Today, he tracks five to 10 sales a month to a small ad in the Dallas Voice, a weekly newspaper for the gay and lesbian community.

Robert Moore, who owns the Voice with Don Ritz, is not surprised by the testimonial. He views the advertising in the 8-year-old publication as a "direct invitation" to the gay community to patronize the businesses.

"It's different from a generic ad," he said. And loyalty, he noted, runs high among his readers.

A recent demographic survey by Simmons Market Research Bureau Inc. backs up Mr. Moore's claims.

The Simmons research showed that 54.5 percent of the Voice readers purchased in the past 12 months a product or service advertised. Nearly 80 percent of the readers in the past 12 months patronized a restaurant advertised. And 95.6 percent of the readers said they were likely to use the products or services advertised.

The Voice readers also boast strong demographics: mean individual income of $35,800; 39.4 percent are homeowners; 52.9 percent are college graduates.

The numbers are equally impressive across the country, said Michael Gravois, president of Rivendell Marketing Co., a Plainfield, N.J.-based advertising representative business that counts the Voice among its 175 client publications. Those publications, publications, in turn, count about 410,000 readers nationwide.

The publications run the gamut from tabloid newspapers to slick magazines and from hard-hitting news publications to bar guides.

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