Americans are skeptical of companies’ LGBTQ+ solidarity – but the messages work

Many consumers think companies should be doing more; the numbers track close to feelings on corporations and racial justice.

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  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor
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It’s become an annual ritual for major brands to express solidarity with LGBTQ+ people during Pride Month in the U.S. – an action sometimes criticized as being a hollow gesture that lasts only for the month of June. But new research from Ipsos shows that while many Americans believe companies speak out without committing to real change, nearly one in three people still say they’re more likely to buy from a company that takes a public stand in favor of LGBTQ+ rights.

  • Young adults age 18-34 are more likely than their older peers to buy something from a company that has taken a public stand in favor of LBGTQ+ Pride: 43% say those statements tip the scale, compared to 34% of those from 35-54 and 19% of those older than 55.
  • Democrats are also three times more likely to be swayed by these statements than Republicans or independents: Just under half of Democrats (49%) say they’re more likely to buy something from a brand that has taken a stand, compared to 14% of Republicans and 16% of independents.
  • On the other side of the coin, one in four disagree that they’re more likely to buy from a company that has taken a stand in favor of LGBTQ+ rights

“There’s no question that taking a stand on a social issue of any kind can be a tightrope walk for brands, but there’s a solid group of consumers – particularly younger Americans, your customers of the future – who are paying attention,” said Tony Incalcatera, a senior vice president in Audience Measurement at Ipsos. “Corporate social responsibility means different things in different industries, but it’s key to get right.”

Young people and prideIndeed, there remains broad belief that too many businesses use the language of LGBTQ+ Pride without committing to real change: Nearly half of Americans (44%) agree on this, including 55% of those between 18 and 34. Even a solid one in three (34%) Americans older than 55 agree on this point.

Ipsos asked similar questions to Americans about racial justice issues in the year since George Floyd’s murder, and the numbers align closely. In the most recent polling on the topic last month, 39% of Americans said they were more likely to buy from a company that has taken a public stand against racism, compared to 31% swayed by companies who speak out on LGBTQ+ topics. And 43% of Americans say more companies have spoken about LGBTQ+ issues than they expected; the same percentage say more companies have spoken up about racism than they expected.

pride vs racial justiceSo if people are skeptical that brands are doing enough to support LGBTQ+ causes, how many Americans are doing the work themselves? Not many. Ipsos asked people about five things people may have done during Pride Month; the most popular one – support an LGBTQ+ business in my community – was an action taken by only one in eight Americans (13%).

  • 6% say they donated to an LGBTQ+ charity
  • Only 4% say they attended a Pride event or a parade
  • Almost three in four Americans (71%) say they didn’t do anything Ipsos asked about

What Americans did for Pride MonthTo learn more about Americans’ expectations for brands on LGBTQ+ issues, racial justice issues and more, register for our free webinar “Corporate Social Responsibility: Marketing Gimmick or Sound Public Policy,” on Aug. 11.


The author(s)

  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor