UM London on the death of the Pink Pound

May 30, 2017 | Share this article

Last month, UM London Insight Director, Michael Brown, was asked to participate in the industry’s first ever Diversity in Marketing and Advertising summit, discussing a study he led for UM around representation of the LGBT community.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with  popular dating app and social network Grindr, outlined new insights around the relationship 18-34-year-old British gay and bisexual men have with digital media and advertising. Part of the agency’s ‘UK by UM’ project, it revealed a community that massively over indexes in social media engagement and has a clear ‘digital-first’ mantra, but one that feels that the advertising world does not represent it fairly.

As a snapshot of the findings: Almost half of respondents (49%) indicated that they’d be more likely to buy from brands who show LGBT+ people in their adverts, whilst 69% thought that brands have a big part to play in challenging and progressing society’s views. In addition, a staggering 54% of gay and bisexual young male respondents indicated that they might have come out sooner if brands had shown LGBT+ people like them when they were growing up. In fact, of those polled, 66% feel there aren’t enough LGBT+ people shown in marketing campaigns, whilst 52% believed the LGBT+ community to be ‘invisible’ in advertising.

While greater representation by brands was shown to be something the LGBT+ population clearly wants, the term ‘pink pound’ (a phrase coined by the Guardian newspaper in 1984 to describe the purchasing power of the LGBT+ community) was shown to be deeply problematic – with 42% of respondents saying they found the term offensive.

According to UM’s study, the 18-34 gay/bisexual audience is 20% likelier to use Twitter and Instagram (54% and 34% have used these in the last 30 days) and 4 times likelier to use Tumblr than straight males in the same age group.

Michael was quoted by a number of trade publications on how he thinks the gay youth’s enthusiasm for digital and social may have been instigated by an offline trend. “Certainly in London, the ‘real world’ gay scene has been threatened by a set of factors, most prominently the increasing acceptance of the LGBT+ community in mainstream venues and the loss of many other ‘safe’ places for this community. The full list of pubs, clubs and saunas closed since the millennium is stark, and with these closures a part of culture is irrevocably lost. Equally, though, there are arguments that it is, in fact, apps such as Grindr that have ‘killed’ the real-life gay scene, so it’s a very complex situation,” he said.

Whichever way we look at it, the study points to an increasingly important role for apps like Grindrin today’s gay scene in providing an anonymous and accessible substitute. The majority (62%) of 18-34-year-old male respondents thought that meet-up apps like Grindr, Tinder and POF are the new ‘virtual gaybar’, while 72% of respondents said they wished there was less shame around using these apps. Half said they had met good, real-world friends on the platform.

The study and its findings was picked up and featured across the trade press – including this piece in Campaign: Read Here

For more information, and details on how  to use this work for client campaigns, please don’t hesitate to contact Michael Brown.