Category Archive: Mega Trend

Mega Trend: LGBT Families

July 2012 Trend Report from Rec Room

Mega Trend: Marketing and The Modern Family: LGBT Parents

Future thinking brands understand the influence of LGBT families.

The LGBT Market
LGBT consumers are an economically strong and fast growing market segment. In a 2012 study released by the National Post, 5% of the Canadian population identified themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered, and the estimated size of the LGBT market in Canada is between $90 to $100 billion dollars, or about 7.2% of Canada’s GDP (Protean Strategies, 2011).

The LGBT Family
While there has yet to be a comprehensive study of LGBT families, it is estimated that of same sex couples in the US, 16% are raising children (Williams Institute, 2011). According to 2000 Census results, 33% of female same-sex households and 22% of male couple households had children. And 2010 Census results showed approximately 2MM US children being raised by LGBT parents. These numbers are on the rise as more same-sex couples are able to legally marry and build families via surrogacy, adoption or through fertility technologies.

The LGBT Parent Consumer
According to Witeck Combs Communications and, gay and lesbian parents spent $22 billion on their kids in 2002, and this is expected to increase to $28 billion by the end of 2012. These parents are strongly influenced by friends in their networks. Nearly 37% of gay dads say that friends have some influence on their purchase decisions, almost twice that of other groups surveyed.  66% of gay dads say they are likely to buy products that have ads reflecting their own sexual orientation and 63% of lesbian moms say it’s likely that they would support companies that show diverse families in their advertising (Edelman, 2011).

The Loyal Consumer
LGBT consumers are fiercely loyal to brands that represent and support them. In 2011, a Harris Interactive survey found that 71% of LGBT adults said they are likely to remain loyal to a brand they believe to be very friendly and supportive of the LGBT community “even when less friendly companies may offer lower prices or be more convenient.”  Purchase intent also increases when LGBT consumers see an advertisement that has been clearly tailored to a gay audience with gay imagery and which “speaks to me as a gay person,” according to 47% of LGBT adults surveyed (Harris Interactive, 2011)

Mass Culture
Recent representations of LGBT families in mass media are helping bring LGBT families further into the mainstream and into everybody’s living room. Loveable gay dads Cameron and Mitchell are core characters on ABC’s Emmy nominated Modern Family, which is currently #4 in ratings with adults aged 18-49.  This year, NBC’s The New Normal will take a comedic look at same-sex dads having a family via surrogate.  The advocacy of influential celebrities (Lady GaGa) on behalf of marriage equality has gone a long way towards influencing the attitudes of young people.

Implications and Insights

When the CEO of US restaurant chain Chick Fil-A spoke openly against marriage equality, their toy partner, Jim Henson Company’s The Muppets, severed ties with the company, stating their unequivocal support for gay marriage, and donating the proceeds from the partnership to GLAAD, The Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  This story has been picked up by virtually every media outlet in North America and the coverage is universally critical of Chick-Fil-A.

JCPenney featured lesbian moms in their mother’s day ads, and gay dads in their father’s day ads, sparking a call for a boycott from conservative group One Million Moms. Despite this, JCPenney refused to change its position. The controversy earned the company millions of dollars in positive publicity.

To counteract negative fallout from a controversial political donation to a right wing candidate opposed to marriage equality, Target is now producing a charitable t-shirt line in support of gay pride, and just this week, CEO Jeff Bezos made a $2.5M donation to promoting marriage equality in Washington State.

Smart companies have been targeting the LGBT consumer for years, reaching out to gay consumers through targeted campaigns in niche media outlets that serve the LGBT community and are not widely seen by mainstream consumers. What’s trending now is the inclusion of images of LGBT couples and families in mainstream campaigns that reach all consumers. It’s about winning LGBT consumers as customers but it’s also about being on the same team as gay-supportive consumers, who make up more than half of the US population. And finally, it’s about being a forward thinking and modern company, which is what makes a brand best-in-class.


A list of 25 top brands and organizations who have included LGBT positive messages in recent marketing campaigns can be found here.

Mega Trend: Dad-isfaction

June 2012 Trend Report from Rec Room

Mega Trend: Dad – isfaction

Men are deriving great personal satisfaction and enjoyment from being a father in a way that hasn’t been seen in previous generations. Today’s dad considers fatherhood to be a critical identity marker, an integral part of who he is. This has led to the emergence of a new dad culture that media and marketers are just now waking up to and that presents important new opportunities.

The Dad Shopper

More than ever, dads are shopping for CPG products, home care items, and baby and child care products. For example, 80% of dads are fully or
partially responsible for product purchasing decisions in the child and baby care product category (Yahoo!, 2011). As of 2009, almost one-third of men were the principal shoppers in the household (Nielson, 2009) and we can assume that the 2012 figures are significantly higher.

Social Media

Like the “mommy blogger” culture in the early 2000’s, there has been an explosion in dads’ blogging and social media usage. A study by Edelman shows that 40% of US dads with kids under the age of 2 who are using social networks are writing family related updates on a daily basis, 56% post family related photos a few times a week, and 21% post family videos (Business News Daily, April 2012).

Traditional Media

Media and entertainment companies have caught on. New sitcoms backed by major networks are portraying cool dads in non-traditional roles. Up All Night features a stay at home dad (Will Arnett) who takes his daughter to playgroups, playdates and on visits to mom’s office. Jimmy Fallon’s new show Guys with Kids about men “enjoying the adventures of parenting” has already been green-lit for 13 episodes. At Rec Room we particularly love the documentary The Other F Word, about famous punk rock dads (Flea, Rob Chaos) balancing their wild lifestyles and colourful past with the ambition of being really good parents.


A 2011 study determined that three of the 10 most liked new TV ads featured “fatherly love” – touching stories of dads with their sons (Neilson, 2011). Unfortunately, this is not the norm in advertising, and despite making more purchasing decisions than ever, dads feel disenfranchised by the marketing messages attached to these products. A full 57% of dads said they felt alienated by ads in the child and baby care category and 52% felt ignored by ads in the home goods category (Yahoo!, 2011).


We are in the early days of a massive new dad culture. There is tremendous opportunity to build brand loyalty with dad by getting in early with targeted, relevant and respectful messaging that reflects the good feelings men have about fatherhood.
foot note

More Dad #Wins and #Fails

Dad #Fail

This recent advertising disaster by Kimberly Clark for Huggies caused outrage among moms and dads alike. Huggies created a series of ads where their baby products were put to the ultimate test: Dad parenting! For five days in a row! Without mom! Social streams immediately lit up with parents expressing their outrage at the portrayal of dads as incompetent, negligent and useless. The backlash was so fierce the executives at Huggies flew to the Dad2.0 conference to talk with real dads about their needs and wants from advertisers and rejigged the campaign accordingly turning their #fail, into something of a #win.

More #fails





Dad #Win

Google received great attention when it released this touching commercial,featuring a thoughtful dad documenting his daughter’s life using Google products. Brands like Bugaboo have been doing it right for years, showing hip and cool dads pushing their hip and cool strollers.

More #wins