How Can LGBTQ+ Inclusion Be Improved in Media and Advertising?

July 29, 2022

More than one-third of LGBTQ+ consumers around the world are comfortable with brands reaching out to them as members of the LGBTQ+ community, including more than half (52%) of respondents in the US who are comfortable with inclusive campaigns, according to a report [download page] from Nielsen.

The study indicates that “LGBTQ+ inclusion in media largely focuses on same-sex relationships.” Indeed, 72% of transgender women and 58% of transgender men feel that media programming is non-inclusive, a sentiment shared by 63% of bisexuals and pansexuals. By comparison, 51% of gays and 33% of lesbians surveyed feel that programming is not inclusive.

These patterns largely hold when it comes to perceptions of advertising, though feelings of non-inclusivity are more pronounced. More than three-quarters of transgender men (80%) and women (77%) feel that advertising is non-inclusive, as do 69% of bisexuals and pansexuals. Notably, while just 44% of people with gender non-binary identities feel that media programming is non-inclusive, that figure balloons to 80% when it comes to perceptions of advertising non-inclusivity.

Perceptions of non-inclusivity tend to be highest for traditional media: more than 6 in 10 LGBTQ+ respondents said that newspaper (72%), radio (72%), and cinema/outdoor (61%) ads are very non-inclusive of other sexual orientations. Those perceptions fell to fewer than half for social media ads (45%), influencers followed on social media (47%), movies/TV series on video streaming services (48%) and podcasts (49%).

LGBTQ+ consumers have long felt under-represented in advertising, and one survey has found almost 6 in 10 LGBTQ+ consumers saying they had stopped buying a brand because it didn’t represent their identity in its advertising. More recently, research revealed that just 23% of women feel that gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer or trans women are portrayed positively in advertising.

Within the US, the Nielsen research indicates that respondents believe that advertising is most inclusive for gay and lesbian identities, and least inclusive for transgender men and women.

As perceptions of inclusivity in advertising trail those in media, almost 7 in 10 (69% of) LGBTQ+ respondents across the 9 countries surveyed say they believe efforts are being made to improve inclusion in media.

In order to improve LGBTQ+ inclusion in media, respondents are most likely to say that stereotyping individuals in advertising/programming should be avoided (51%), with almost half (46%) believing that improved authenticity/realistic depictions of LGBTQ+ would improve inclusivity. Four in 10 also say that involving the LGBTQ+ community when visioning and creating advertising/programming would help inclusivity in content and advertising.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 5,000 people across the US, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Spain, and the UK.

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