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Love, Pink : A New Market of Desirability

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

By Rhea Bisaria, St. Stephen’s College and Shreya Arora, Miranda House

Any company or brand in the current global market knows how important it is to target homocapitalism in the global economic scenario. Queer power has been able to create a market for the gay community that has sufficient purchasing power to boost the global economy.

Historical Emergence 

The global advent of pink capitalism began at the same time as modern capitalism. Since the late 1890s, bars, cabarets, brothels, and magazines have existed targeting specifically at the LGBTQIA+ community. During the 1990s, the discrimination of the gay community diminished, broadening LGBTQIA+ people’s access to formerly heteronormative jobs. This increased purchasing power or the creation of ‘pink money’. Homosexuals represent a large portion of this purchasing power (the trend of DINKs- Double Income, no kids ).

It is a bit heteronormative to think that financial planning is the same regardless of sexual orientation; the gay community actually has quite a different attitude towards money. In the LGBTQ Finances Survey from Experian(2018), it was seen that the community put more emphasis on discretionary spending than savings. They dine better, travel better and obviously own a closet better than us.

LGBTI Inclusion: Key to Economic Prosperity 

At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is inclusion, with its crucial message of “leaving no one behind”. While there have been several significant advances in practice and policy, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people persists.

Several theoretical frameworks argue that LGBTI inclusion is linked to a stronger economy. Human capital approach says that inclusion allows LGBTI people to achieve their economic potential when they can get education and training that improves their productivity and when they are treated equally in the labor market. Greater economic development makes countries more likely to respect the rights of LGBTI people, improving individual well-being. Additionally, countries hoping to present themselves as visibly “modern” and successfully potential trading partners might use LGBT rights strategically as a way to promote and expand economic opportunities.

At the micro-level, costs to the economy of exclusionary treatment (like unjust arrests and beatings by police, mob violence, etc) include lost productivity, lost labor time, underinvestment in human capital, and inefficient allocation of human resources through discrimination in education and hiring practices, acting as a drag onthe the economy.

The macro-level analysis reveals a clear positive correlation between per capita GDP and legal rights for LGBT groups across countries, as measured by the Global Index on Legal Recognition of Homosexual Orientation (GILRHO) and the Transgender Rights Index (TRI) respectively. The simplest correlation shows that one additional right in the GILRHO (out of eight rights included) is associated with $1,400 more in per capita GDP and a higher HDI value. In other words, countries with more rights for LGBT people have higher per capita income and levels of well-being. This suggests that the benefits extend beyond purely economic outcomes to well-being measured as educational attainment and life expectancy.

Why should businesses care?

Whe Business Impact of LGBT supportive Workplace Policies, a report by the Williams Institute found that LGBT employees who hide their identity in the workplace experience higher levels of stress and anxiety, which leads to health problems and work-related complaints. More broadly, disadvantaged workers can be bad for business. Absenteeism, low productivity, inadequate training, and high turnover make for higher labor costs and lower profits. Multinational companies know they’ll have trouble convincing an openly gay executive to accept a transfer to a country that is LGBT intolerant. By introducing LGBT-friendly policies and ensuring that they are implemented, businesses can reduce the impact on individuals’ wellbeing.

As well as the benefits for LGBT individuals, there’s also a financial argument for businesses being LGBT-supportive. Inclusive policies help to avoid the negative image that comes with LGBT discrimination, which in turn can help to attract customers who are specifically looking for socially responsible businesses to receive their custom.

Additionally, LGBT customers tend to be very brand loyal, choosing companies that they view to be more LGBT-friendly. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 87percent of LGBT adults would consider purchasing from a brand that provided equal workplace benefits. Survey also found that 23percent of LGBT adults have switched products or services because another company was more LGBT supportive – even if that brand was more expensive or less convenient.

Due to this, an increasingly specialized market has developed around the LGBTQI community that served their needs by selling services and products designed specifically for them. With a new millennial scenario and the power of pink, inclusion, and acceptance is no longer an option, but a dire need. And as always, social media platforms come to the rescue and along with them, digital marketers who wish to encash on the new opportunities in the market.

Grindr: A new age market 

A wave of business digitalization and social media has spread to the field of pink capitalism, giving rise to a variety of new business opportunities. Grindr is the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people.

Its ‘Grindr for Equality’ programme explores ways to use its technology and platform to help promote social justice, health, safety, and more for LGBTQ individuals around the globe in partnership with activists, community leaders, and humanitarian and digital rights organizations. Grindr’s financial success comes from the fact that it is free to users and its success depends upon their loyalty to the brand. And due to the community’s history of discrimination and pressure from the society, it makes them a choosy and yet fiercely loyal consumer group. The fact that Grindr has been able to gain the trust of its users makes it a primetime dating application for people interested in using it. It’s a classic example of a sharing economy.

Moreover, not only does Grindr gain money through advertising on their app, but also offers their users premium services for a monthly fee. In this case, the (arguably) sparse use of advertising and default option of using a free account allows it to be utilized by all sections of the sexual minorities, without putting a dent in their bank account.

Many businesses now cater to gay customers, including nightclubs, shops, restaurants, and even taxis. The economic power of pink money has been seen as a positive force of the gay community in creating financial ‘self-identification’ which helps members feel like a part of the community that values them. The global economy could take advantage of this highly profitable phenomenon by expanding the LGBT market to sectors like hospitality, travel, health, fashion, finance, and social media, etc.

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