By Steve Deitsch
With marriage equality seemingly sweeping the country, more and more same-sex couples will be tying the knot in the coming months and years. To date, well over 75,000 same-sex marriages have been performed in the U.S. and that number will only grow. There are about 650,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. so there is huge economic potential. In fact, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates an additional $1 Billion in revenue from same-sex weddings if it were legalized across the U.S.
How can your property get a piece of the pie? Here are some things to consider:
1. Become relevant before you relate
76% of same-sex couples want to work with LGBT-friendly properties and vendors. In 28 U.S. states and many countries, it’s perfectly legal for vendors to refuse to work with LGBT couples. That means you need to vet your vendors, train your staff, and even update your forms so they don’t say “Bride” and “Groom” but “Spouse” and “Spouse,” for example. 72% of LGBT couples want vendors who use inclusive language and 69% want vendors to show inclusive photos.
2. Location matters
The economic opportunity for those states in the U.S. or the 17 countries that offer same-sex wedding is enormous. If same-sex marriage is legal in your location, research shows that same-sex couples will spend up to three times more on their wedding than in locations where only a civil union or domestic partnership is legal. Many couples also opt for destination weddings, so if you are in a desirable location in a state in the U.S. or a country where same-sex weddings are legal, cast a wide geographic marketing net.
3. There is a difference between weddings between men and weddings between women
Lesbians spend up to 15% more on their weddings than gay men For example, 66% of lesbians bought an engagement ring, vs. only 19% of gay men. The women also tend to stick more traditional aspects of the wedding ceremony and reception.
4. Be open to non-traditional and creative approaches to the ceremony and reception – especially for gay men
Because same–sex couples don’t necessarily follow wedding tradition, they are often interested in doing things beyond the ordinary to make it more personal.
5. Same-sex weddings tend to be smaller and more casual, but more expensive
Same-sex couples spend slightly more on their weddings and more per guest than the $28,400 the average straight couple spends. Because many of the same-sex couples have been together a longer time, they are often older and their parents don’t invite their friends and distant relations. Also, most same-sex couples pay for the weddings themselves.
6. Show you care
Gays and lesbians are a lucrative audience, and tend to influence the general population and be extremely loyal to a brand or company that supports them. So if you are new to marketing to the LGBT community, it’s important to establish that you not only want their money, but that you genuinely support the LGBT community. This can be accomplished a number of different ways: provide equal benefits and protections to LGBT employees; sponsor local (or national) LGBT charities; and offer products or services or packages that would be of special interest to the LGBT audience.
Sources: Community Marketing Inc., TheKnot.com <http://TheKnot.com> , Pew Research, U.S. Congressional Budget Office, 14 Stories
Steve Deitsch is President of Reverberate! Marketing Communications. The company specializes in reaching the LGBT market.