The Trillion-Dollar Market Most Med Spas Are Ignoring – How To Access, Market to And Authentically Serve the LGBTQ+ Aesthetic Patient
The “yummy mummy," the “real housewife” and of course the “millennial” – I hear about these patients time and time again! If you’re anything like most of the practices I work with, these individuals are among the patients that you target in your advertising.
In many cases, these are, in fact, great audiences to focus on through your promotional efforts, but there's a catch: If these particular individuals become your focus, you are likely leaving a substantial amount of potential revenue on the table. In fact, you may be ignoring a goldmine that’s hidden in plain sight.
In today’s article, I would like to open your mind to a patient segment that’s underserved, highly loyal, largely affluent – and searching for exactly what your practice has to offer. It’s a market with buying power estimated to be just shy of a trillion dollars, and one that big business (and many brands you love) have recently tuned into, enhancing their bottom lines as a result.
This audience has played an important role in the strategy I’ve been quietly executing with our clients from the day I began my consultancy, and the results have been consistently impressive – as has the ROI on our ad spend. It’s been an approach and area of expertise I have always kept quite closely guarded and reserved exclusively for my roster of private retainer clientele – until now.
I’d like to invite you to discover the power of advertising to and serving the LGBTQ+ patient, and the benefits it can deliver to your practice. Before I get into the specifics, I realize that for some readers this may be a market they are inexperienced or unfamiliar with, and that it may not necessarily be a fit for everyone – but for those who are open and looking to innovate, I cannot think of a better approach to create a low-competition, high-loyalty patient base that eagerly refers their friends and loved ones.
Indeed, advertising to the LGTBQ+ consumer is simply good business…and the statistics prove it:
- LGBTQ+ consumers are 3.4 times more likely to have a household income over $250K. (Travel Gay)
- The combined buying power of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. exceeds $915 billion…and that number is rising. (Entrepreneur.com)
- Gay consumers are twice as likely to buy a vacation home, six times more likely to purchase a home theater system, and eight times more likely to own multiple mobile devices and computers than heterosexual consumers. (Entrepreneur.com)
- LGBTQ households make 10% to 20% more shopping trips to malls, stores, and other retail locations than the average U.S. household. (Nielsen)
- 71% of LGBTQ+ adults said they are likely to remain loyal to a brand they believe to be friendly and supportive. (Harvard Business Review)
- 47% of LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to consider a brand that has tailored an ad to them. (eMarketer)
Put succinctly, when you pursue the LGBTQ+ consumer – you are taking the straight-line path to serving a patient base that is wealthier, more loyal, and more willing to spend their discretionary income.
So, what exactly do you need to know about your prospective LGBTQ+ patients?
For starters, let's begin with a brief overview of the acronym. LGBTQ+ represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning individuals. While you may see the acronym extended to include other orientations and gender identities, these can also be indicated with a "+" to encompass all individuals who do not fit into these larger categories, or one specific subset.
Next, let's look at where they are based. While LGBTQ+ consumers are present in every community, no matter how large the community is, there is often a larger and more established LGBTQ+ community in the nation's larger metropolitan cities. That being said, don't be quick to discount your own regional market – a recent and extensive study by NerdWallet explored America's most gay-friendly cities, and some of the top locations may surprise you:
- San Francisco, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Austin, Texas
- Providence, Rhode Island
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Seattle, Washington
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Los Angeles, California
- Orlando, Florida
Keeping this in mind, let’s explore some crucial dos and don’ts when communicating with your prospective LGBTQ+ patients. This can make a world of difference between a campaign that takes off – and one that ends in a PR disaster for your practice.
At risk of sounding arrogant – I do not know of a single consultant in the aesthetic space that has similar first-hand experience among this market, or any other medical spa marketer that has comparable experience creating campaigns for this demographic. I hope the best practices below will inspire you to think proactively about your LGTBQ+ marketing efforts, and ensure your campaign hits the mark.
- Appreciate the reality that LGBTQ+ consumers exist in every part of the nation (and globally!) – don’t assume that a practice in the Midwestern or Southern United States isn’t “ready” for a LGBTQ+ campaign… instead, use it as an opportunity to educate and enlighten other practices (and patients!) in your market.
- Be inclusive and diverse in the ages, ethnic backgrounds, social statuses, and relationships your advertising alludes to – don’t ever assume there is a “typical” LGBTQ+ consumer, or use tired or worn out “scenes” such as nightclubs, pools, bedrooms or bars.
- Be sensitive to stereotypes and lead with universal themes – confidence, love, family, friendship, and health are great places to start in your campaign messaging and conceptualization. Don’t ever, ever stereotype – using an overly effeminate gay man or less feminine lesbian woman are dated, jaded ideas that will alienate your prospective patients at best and create backlash at worst.
- When serving these patients, be sure to offer an “other” category in your CRM or marketing intake forms – this applies to relationship status and gender identity. That being said, don’t assume or automatically place your prospective LGBTQ+ consumers strictly in the “alternative” or “other” category – as doing so can be easily perceived as both exclusionary and offensive. Simply create more space for them wherever possible.
- Use LGBTQ+ models and/or influencers that are an authentic fit for your practice brand – and don’t forget that there isn’t any one “look” or type of personality that represents LGBTQ+ relationships and ideals.
On the same note, let’s look at a quick overview of terms you may wish to avoid in your LGBTQ+ messaging and/or advertising:
Let's talk about terms that are better left unsaid throughout advertising and patient communication, and which terms you should use instead.
- It’s not a “lifestyle” – it’s someone’s life.
- Your practice is not “sensitive” to LGBTQ+ patients, you are compassionate and caring.
- If engaging in community events, refrain from using the term “gay marriage” and your support thereof, but rather of “marriage equality."
- Finally, as opposed to referring to someone’s husband or wife – speak about their significant other as a partner or spouse.
If you’re looking for the right point in your annual marketing plan to execute an LGBTQ+ campaign, remember that these patients are looking for what you have to offer all year long! Here are a few notable dates during the calendar year you may wish to highlight in your social media efforts:
- February: LGBT History Month (UK)
- April 19: National Day of Silence
- April 26: Lesbian Visibility Day
- May 17: IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia)
- June: Pride Month
- September 23: Bisexual Awareness Day
- October 1: National Coming Out Day
- October: LGBT History Month
- November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
- December 10: Human Rights Day
You may be excited and eager to market to LGBTQ+ patients, but not exactly sure of where to reach them, or what the best media channels would be to do so. At a glance, here are a few keys when selecting your marketing mix for LGBTQ+ campaigns.
- Leverage the influencer effect – you may already have experience working with influencers, and indeed there are LGTBQ+ influencers in every market. Do your research to find those influencers who are voices among your local LGBTQ+ community and also a fit for your practice brand.
- Target local print publications – many cities have local LGBTQ+ magazines or community newspapers, and these are often a cost-effective option when compared to other print media.
- Targeted digital campaigns – (such as those Med Aesthetics Group can help you create!) – by targeting the right interests in your social media pay-per-click campaigns, you can often easily access LGBTQ+ patients where they spend a good part of their downtime, on social networks.
- LGTBQ+ dating platform advertisements – Hornet, Grindr, and HER are targeted dating and social apps that offer unique advertising opportunities. In fact, one of the most successful campaigns in history (be it for LGBTQ+ or otherwise) was centered around a Grindr ad campaign.
- Partner with LGBTQ+ friendly businesses in your community – it’s likely that your city has coffee shops, restaurants, shops, services (personal trainers, realtors, hairstylists, etc.) and bars/nightclubs that attract LGBTQ+ clientele; and partnering with these businesses can be a great place to begin introducing your practice to prospective patients.
- Sponsor LGBTQ+ events in your community – while Pride Month is the most active time of year for LGTBQ+ events…it is only the very beginning. Research what events, social functions, and organizations/groups are active in your community year-round and how you may be able to contribute to their efforts.
Let’s bring it all together – here are the steps you can take to create an LGTBQ+ marketing action plan for your practice, and how you can best serve these patients to keep them loyal and referring!
- Be committed as a practice and brand – when a business, big or small, is only playing “lip service” to any community or cause, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, it shows and people can see through it. Don’t be that practice! Make inclusion and diversity a part of your practice’s day-to-day culture.
- Find the right targeted avenues to access your LGBTQ+ prospective patients – we covered a few ideas above, and you may wish to start with 1 or 2 channels to market to LGBTQ+ patients. Once your messaging and advertisements are refined based on initial results and conversion, you can expand from there.
- Check your practice’s website. Do you have messaging promoting your commitment to equality? Do you feature LGBTQ+ relationships and individuals in your imagery?
- Get active. What are you doing for your community and how are you promoting it via social channels?
- Educate internally about how to best serve the LGBTQ+ patient.
- Seek expertise and research that informs smart LGBTQ+ strategies.
I believe that for those practices seeking to stay ahead of the curve, a multi-faceted and thoughtful campaign designed to attract the loyal, affluent, ready-to-buy, and often underserved LGBTQ+ patient is among the most little-utilized and low-competition avenues to elevate your practice to market leader status. I would encourage you to explore the possibilities with your team as soon as your next meeting!