Costco Tops LGBT Perceptions

LGBT consumers don’t have markedly different impressions about certain brands or companies than the general consumer market, although overall impressions are a little less enthusiastic. 

According to YouGov BrandIndex, about half of the Top 20 best-perceived brands are shared with the Top 20 best-perceived brands among general consumers. Across the board, however, LGBT scores are about an average 4 points lower than general consumers, says YouGov President and CEO Ted Marzilli.

“As consumers, you would expect them to have the same likes and dislikes,” Marzilli tells Marketing Daily. A stronger indicator, he says, is that brands that once may have been at the forefront when it came to LGBT issues are being caught by others as LGBT rights have gained favor in American culture. 

“When you look at the numbers, American society is looking to go more and more in favor of gay rights,” Marzilli says. “Brands are no longer looking at this as a judgment call, but as a civil rights issue.”

Warehouse retailer Costco holds the top spot as the best-perceived brand by LGBT consumers, moving up from the number 14 position last year. While Costco has not undertaken any high-profile marketing efforts directly aimed at the LGBT community, the Human Rights Campaign gave the brand a score of 90 out of a possible 100 points in its recent Corporate Equality Index Rating, which assesses LGBT workplace policies. The company was also named one of the three best companies to work for in America based on its overall pay and benefit packages.

Netflix held its position as the second-best-perceived brand by the LGBT community. But the third brand, Panera, moved up from number 19 on last year’s poll. The company has embarked on a number of social-minded policies in the past year, from the company’s CEO pledging to eat at poverty levels for a week to a recent corporate pledge to remove artificial ingredients from its products by 2016. However, Marzilli notes, those policies are not necessarily LGBT-specific, and another factor might be at play to explain the jump. 

“It may just be that Panera’s stores are located in environments that are more liberal or predisposed to LGBT issues,” he says. 

But having a direct appeal to the LGBT community doesn’t necessarily lift a brand much higher either, Marzilli says. Apple CEO Tim Cook is openly gay, but the brand -- which reappears in the top 20 after not being on it last year -- comes in at number 10 on the best-perceived brand list for the LGBT community. 

“Apple’s popular with everybody, but they have an out and openly gay CEO, and that may or may not have a halo effect,” Marzilli says. 

YouGov’s brand perception scores are based on daily interviews with 4,500 people between April 1 and June 10, who were asked the question: “If you’ve heard anything about [a brand] in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word-of-mouth, was it positive or negative?” The results are compiled into a Buzz score that can range from 100 to -100, realized by subtracting negative scores from positive ones. For the LGBT scores, the results were filtered for respondents who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

"Young Homosexual Couple with Shopping Bags" photo from Shutterstock.

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