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Beyond the Rainbow T-shirt: What Consumers Really Want from Pride Campaigns 

Mar 27, 2024

Marketing News

Beyond the Rainbow T-shirt: What Consumers Really Want from Pride Campaigns 

Don your rainbow leotard and slip on your hot pink platform crocs, Pride is almost here. Which means, Pride campaigns. 

Joining in on the Pride fun has long been a great way for brands to raise awareness for LGBTQIA+ issues and connect with their consumers. Yet, in recent years, many brands have come under fire for rainbow washing and attempting to profit off the Queer community. 

How can brands be sure to meet consumers’ desires for Pride campaigns, and what do they really want? 

Read on to find out more. 

A BRIEF PRIDE HISTORY 

Typically celebrated in June, Pride is a month-long celebration of all things Queer. From parades to parties to special concerts and events, Pride, for many members of the LGBTQIA+ community, is the highlight of the year. 

Beginning in New York in 1970, Pride began as a march to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969; riots which are widely accepted as the start of the Queer rights movement in the United States and most of the world. 

Fifty-four years later, Pride is a world wide, month long extravaganza, with Queer people everywhere joining in to not only to remember the Stonewall Riots that parade was born from, but also to joyfully celebrate their identities. 

WHY ENGAGE WITH PRIDE CAMPAIGNS?

Why is it essential for companies to engage with Pride?

From an ethical standpoint, engaging with Pride is crucial for furthering LGBTQIA+ rights. When brands celebrate Pride, they communicate to their consumers that it is an issue worth caring about. Consumers are subliminally encouraged to educate themselves about the event, and to practise allyship themselves. It also communicates to governmental bodies and society as a whole that Pride is an issue on peoples’ minds. 

From a business standpoint, successful Pride campaigns are a fantastic way to connect with your consumer base. A recent survey by The Bazaar Voice found that 91% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that supports the LGBTQIA+ community. On top of this, 77% of consumers are planning on celebrating Pride this year. As such, there is a massive opportunity here for brands to authentically connect with these consumers.  

@lukewesleypearson

PROUD YEAR-ROUND 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️ @abercrombie • what an absolute honor to be in company with such incredible people in our community celebrating who we are and who we love ❤️ #abercrombiepartner #prideyearround #transman #lgbtqiaplus #transpride #pride

♬ original sound – Luke Wesley Pearson

Moreover, younger consumers are statistically more likely to purchase from brands that align with their morals and transparently support social issues. Supporting Pride communicates to consumers that your brand is human run, authentic, and is not afraid to take a stand for issues that it cares about. 

Furthermore, Pride campaigns allow your brand to connect with the Queer community. With nearly a third of Gen Z adults in the United States, 16% of Millennials, and 7% of Baby Boomers identifying as LGBTQ, this is a huge community for your brand to speak to. 

Ultimately, engaging with Pride authentically is not only essential for supporting the Queer community, but also for connecting genuinely with consumers. For brands wishing to be a part of the future, and who prioritise supporting marginalised communities, Pride campaigns are simply a no brainer. 

THE DANGERS OF RAINBOW WASHING IN PRIDE CAMPAIGNS 

When considering Pride campaigns, it is crucial that brands do so in a genuine and thoughtful manner; lest they engage in rainbow washing. 

Much like green washing or pink washing, rainbow washing is the occurrence of brands engaging with Pride or activations centred around the LGBTQIA+ community for financial gain.

@alexschar

Reply to @dinobeanz_ hope this clears things up

♬ Peace – Official Sound Studio

 Rather than being involved with Pride for altruistic reasons and desiring to help the Queer community, companies that rainbow wash view Pride campaigns as a way to profit off of the Queer community. Brands involved in this practice typically do not engage with the Queer community all year, then suddenly slap a few rainbows on some products during Pride and hope to make a buck. 

Rainbow washing is a display of false allyship, and allows brands to only show support for the Queer community when they are able to profit off of it. This encourages consumers to do the same, only considering the LGBTQIA+ community once a year, rather than all year long. 

HOW TO ACE PRIDE CAMPAIGNS 

Consumers want authentic, genuine, thoughtful, fun Pride campaigns. 

They want to feel supported by the brands that they purchase from and good in the products they buy. Aided by social media, consumers are increasingly aware and wary of rainbow washing and disingenuous Pride campaigns. It is essential that your campaign comes off as purposeful and well intentioned. It must also speak to consumers in a unique manner to stand out amongst the competition. 

So, how do you ace Pride campaigns and meet consumers’ needs?

Work with LGBTQIA+ organisations 

One of the best ways to ensure that you meet consumers wants and needs with your Pride campaign is to partner up with a Queer organisation. 

By doing so, you ensure that your campaign is rooted in the LGBTQIA+ community, and driven by what they really want. Your campaign is far more authentic in this manner, as it reflects the real life experiences of Queer people and also benefits the community. 

A fantastic example of this is the Skittles Recolour the Rainbow campaign back in 2021. The popular sweets brand partnered up with Gay Times, Queer Britain and Switchboard to restore four LGBTQIA+ photographs to full colour.  

By restoring the images (sourced from the 1970’s to 1980’s) Skittles aimed to bring new clarity to the images, bringing the historic Pride movement into the future and celebrating Pride’s past. 

Pride campaigns

Amplify Queer voices 

A key part of successful Pride campaigns is amplifying Queer voices. 

By shining the light on local, famous, or even employee LGBTQIA+ voices, brands shift the attention away from themselves and refocus it on the Queer community. This is a fantastic way to embrace Queer identities, educate your consumers, and authentically engage in Pride campaigns. 

Amplifying Queer voices can be as simple as working with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to create your campaign, such as hiring gay artists or working with Queer employees. 

A recent Pride campaign by H&M did a fantastic job of this. The clothing brand created their Beyond the Rainbow campaign, which allowed consumers to scan any rainbow object during Pride and be shown a collection of coming out stories from locals, workers and celebrities. The campaign was a roaring success, due to the manner in which it highlighted true Queer stories, educated consumers, and did not shy away from the difficulties many people experience as a result of identifying as LGBTQIA+. 

Pride campaigns

 

Continue your support past the month of June

To truly meet consumers’ needs with your Pride campaigns, it is essential that brands continue their support for the Queer community far past the month of June.  

As previously mentioned, consumers are able to identify rainbow washing from a mile away. If a company only mentions LGBTQIA+ issues during Pride month, it comes off as incredibly fake and untrustworthy. To avoid this, be sure to transparently support the Queer community all year round. This can be through donations to Queer issues, vocal support for the community in times of strife, and (arguably most importantly) supporting Queer employees. 

Ensuring that you foster a safe and welcoming workplace for your employees allows you to be transparent with your consumers. Apple, for example, knocks this out of the park. With an openly gay CEO and unique Pride campaigns every year, Apple is one of the few companies who have received a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every year since 2002. The company attends Pride every year, has dedicated support groups for its employees, and even signed a HRC letter in 2020 that opposed anti-Queer legislation. 

As a result, when Apple engages in Pride campaigns, it comes off as authentic. Consumers respond incredibly well to these campaigns, as they recognize that Apple genuinely cares about Queer issues. 

@commonheir

Happy #pridemonth ❤️🌈 Here are a few of our favorite queer campaigns in the beauty industry, let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments below👇@angela.ubias #pride #pride2023 #queerbeauty #queercampaign #inclusivebeauty #queerownedbusiness #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Common Heir

Encourage UGC and support your Queer consumers 

A sure fire way to successfully engage with Pride campaigns is by encouraging user generated content (UGC) from your consumers. 

Pride campaigns that invite consumers to join in on the conversation and share their own experiences build a sense of community around your brand. UGC is a powerful marketing tool as it builds a relationship between you and your consumers that goes far beyond a mere transaction. 

Try creating a Snapchat filter that consumers can use to share their own stories under, or perhaps an event at your store where like-minded people can mingle. Be sure to engage with the users that participate, to show just how much you care about their experiences and support. 

Donate your proceedings 

Finally, to truly ensure your Pride campaigns are viewed as the real deal by consumers, consider donating your proceedings to charities associated with the LGBTQIA+ community. 

In doing so, you communicate that you truly are simply hoping to help the Queer community through your campaign, rather than trying to profit off of it. Too many companies simply engage with Pride in an attempt to raise their earnings. By donating the proceedings from your Pride campaigns, you are directly supporting the Queer community. 

All in all, Pride campaigns are an increasingly hot topic. With the number of brands getting caught up in rainbow washing and inauthentic Pride campaigns, ensuring that yours is genuine and successful is essential. 

Consumers, especially younger ones, are motivated by Pride campaigns to support your brand throughout the year. Successfully carrying out a Pride campaign is not only a sure fire way to drum up brand loyalty and good faith in your consumers, but to genuinely give back to your community. 

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@sociallypowerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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