Gay-Friendly Auto Brand Perception Does Not Mean Gays, Lesbians Will Buy

A national survey by GayWheels.com indicates despite a perception of Subaru as being "gay-friendly," gays don't actually buy them. Whatever. We know stereotypes are always reflective of reality. Didn't you read yesterday's Camaro review?

According to the survey results, 67% of gay male and lesbian car buyers consider companies exhibiting gay‑friendly behavior "very or somewhat important." The survey results found both gay men and lesbians believe Subaru is the most gay‑friendly car company — 45% of respondents cited the company in the survey results. Additionally, Subaru's been widely recognized for its advertising and partnerships targeting the LGBT community. Volkswagen and Ford placed a distant second and third for both segments.

But, and here's the kicker, despite brand awareness as being gay-friendly, Subaru is noticeably absent among the top brands owned by either Lesbians or Gay Men. Toyota held the top spot for both. So what does this tell us? Probably that lesbians and gay men are, sadly, just like most hetero car buyers these days — looking for an appliance rather than a real driving experience. Full press release below:

Perception as Gay-Friendly Doesn't Always Lead to Sales from Gay and Lesbian Car Buyers

New National Survey Indicates Subaru is Considered Most Gay-Friendly but Not Most Purchased and Identifies Brands Most Likely to Be Owned by Gays and Lesbians

RIVER EDGE, NJ – A new national survey of gay and lesbian car owners conducted by gaywheels.com demonstrates the promise and potential of the gay and lesbian market as a source of new car sales for more brands than once thought.

The survey, designed with gaywheels.com market research partner Sorgenfrei, highlights differences in car buying preferences between gay men and lesbians, reinforces the importance of a car company's "gay friendly" reputation and identifies the top brands for both audience groups.

According to the survey results, 67% of both gay male and lesbian car buyers consider companies exhibiting gay‑friendly behavior "very or somewhat important, where gay friendly is defined predominantly by offering domestic partner benefits." The survey results found that both gay men and lesbians believe Subaru is the most gay‑friendly car company – 45% of respondents cited the company in the survey results. Subaru has been widely recognized for its advertising and partnerships targeting the LGBT community. Volkswagen and Ford placed a distant second and third for both segments.

Despite their brand awareness as being gay-friendly, Subaru is noticeably absent among the top brands owned by either Lesbians or Gay Men. Toyota held the top spot for both.

"One of the most interesting findings is that Subaru is not the most popular brand with either Gay Men or Lesbians. Toyota holding the top spot is not a surprise; they sell more cars" said LaMuraglia. "What really stands out is when we compared market share of the LGBT New Car buyer in this study to the overall market. Subaru isn't in the Top 10 for Gay Men and is only fourth for Lesbians".

The survey reveals that Gay Men are 18 times more likely than the general population to own a Saab, five times more likely to own an Audi and four times more likely to own a MINI, VW or Jaguar. Lesbians are 11 times more likely than the general population to own a Saab, five times more likely to own a Scion and three times more likely to own a Jeep, Subaru or Saturn.

The results of the survey indicate that there are two very distinct groups based on gender identity. "While most marketers treat the LGBT consumer as one cohesive entity, the truth is it is the most diverse diversity group in the marketplace" said LaMuraglia. "The data points to differences between Gay Men and Lesbians based around what they drive, what is important to them when considering a brand and how they see themselves".

Purchase reasons also differ based on gender identity. Lesbians are similar to the general population when it comes to the five most important purchase reasons. In order, they are:

Fuel Economy, Price, Safety Ratings, Body Style and Impact on the Environment. Gay men put their highest priority on Styling and then consider Price, Fuel Economy, Body Style and the Availability of the Latest Technology.

While both gay men and lesbians in the survey reported similar car ownership patterns (Toyota, Honda, VW and Ford are the top brands currently owned by both segments), gender differences lead to differences in new car buying intent. Gay men in the survey indicated that BMW, Audi and Toyota were their top three brands for a new car purchase while lesbians indicated that Toyota, Honda and Subaru were their top three brands for a new car purchase.

If you consider the psychographics of these two groups, their brand affinity and purchase reasons begin to make sense. Gay men say their car says they are "successful, sexy and well-off" while Lesbians indicate that their vehicle says they are "practical, environmentally conscious and partnered".

Perhaps most importantly in this economy, the survey results demonstrate the potential value of the marketplace: 40% of the survey respondents that bought their vehicle new reported an annual household income over $100,000. Forty‑two percent of gay men and 39% of lesbians reported a household income above that level.

"Effective marketing to any consumer group requires a complete understanding of the target market's ideals, emotional identities and needs," LaMuraglia said. "The gaywheels.com LGBT automotive survey adds a new layer of understanding to the decision‑making process car buyers go through and provides a clear direction for companies interested in tapping this underserved, yet highly motivated and engaged, marketplace."

About the Study

The LGBT Automobile Ownership survey was fielded in March 2009 and thanks to LGBT marketing partners LOGO, Planetout and the GayAdNetwork, the total number of respondents from the U.S. reached 3,685. The questionnaire featured 34 questions and the data generated includes both owners of new and used cars. The data cited in this release is based on LGBT consumers in the U.S. that purchased their vehicle new (n=1,871). More data and a copy of the survey can be obtained by contacting Sorgenfrei at info@sorgenfreillc.com.

About Gaywheels.com

Launched in 2005, Gaywheels.com is dedicated to promoting responsible consumerism and affecting change by encouraging car shoppers to patronize gay-friendly companies throughout the vehicle purchase process. Users of the site are able to investigate which automakers and other automotive companies offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, thus qualifying them as "gay-friendly," plus read general reviews about cars, trucks and SUVs from those manufacturers. With that information at hand, they can make educated choices during the car-buying process. For more information, please visit www.Gaywheels.com.

About Sorgenfrei

Sorgenfrei was founded on the belief that consumer and competitive research could be more client-friendly, more accurate, more dependable, more inspired, and more affordable. Based in New York City, the firm works with clients across North America. Sorgenfrei is a truly global firm, with strong roots in Europe, and ten languages spoken by the firm's team members. Learn more at www.sorgenfreillc.com

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