by Fred Kuhr
Banks and other financial institutions are mainstay sponsors of events such as Pride celebrations. They also often advertise in LGBTQ media. These are among the ways that such businesses build what is known as LGBTQ “brand equity” or “brand love,” which in turn leads to increased business. Such advertisements and sponsorships also help keep community publications and organizations afloat.
But 2020 is not like any other year.
According to the Pride Brand Lift Study, an annual collaboration between marketing agencies SPI Marketing and BERA Brand Management, retail banks are finding it difficult to differentiate themselves among other retail bank brands. While most in the financial industry have spoken up and taken action around LGBTQ issues, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, few have been able to strengthen their relationships with LGBTQ consumers, according to the study.
The upside, for both banks and the publications in which they may advertise, is that “a leveled playing field leaves the door wide open for brands planning to increase their LGBTQ market share in 2021,” according to the study.
“Most retail banking brands perform well across traditional marketing metrics. However, the Achilles heel for financial services brands is how much these brands matter to the LGBTQ community,” said Ryan Barker, CEO and founder of BERA Brand Management. “They lack a competitive advantage in meaningfulness and uniqueness. By identifying the brand purpose and emotional drivers that matter most to the LGBTQ community, they could create the advantage they need.”
Overall, the 2020 study reveals that LGBTQ and BLM messaging has helped financial brands build scores in “honesty.” Yet they are still losing when it comes to LGBTQ consumers trusting their actions as “real” or “sincere.” Increased vigilance from the generation Z and millennial segment of the LGBTQ community no longer allows brands to hide behind “fuzzy or disingenuous positions” on key LGBTQ issues, and corporate culture is an important part of the brand evaluation equation for LGBTQ consumers, according to the study.
According to SPI and BERA, their partnership provides “clarity for brands looking to better understand their relationship with LGBTQ consumers, and it offers valuable insights on which brand attributes are most valued by LGBTQ consumers.”
Todd Evans, CEO of Rivendell Media and publisher of Press Pass Q, noted that consistent advertising on behalf of the financial sector would help. “Few banks spend much on actual advertising in LGBTQ media,” said Evans. “So, of course, it is hard to gain trust and authenticity.”
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