A guest column by Matthew Celestial
Queer entrepreneurs stress the challenges of preserving customer and brand loyalty beyond Pride Month. As businesses recover from the pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts, there is an increasing need for LGBTQ+ visibility and a commitment to year-round support.
With this month’s LGBTQ+ pride well underway, the symbolic rainbows drape businesses and adorn modified corporate logos for 30 fabulous days. However, there is no question of the permeation of queer lived experiences in culture and media are slowly steeping beyond June, and now are a powerful force in the economic engine of the planet.
According to LGBT Capital, LGBTQ+ adults globally held a combined buying power of approximately $3.7 trillion dollars in 2019. The economic power of “pink” money has been seen as a positive influence for the queer community, creating a “financial self-identification,” helping LGBTQ+ individuals feel included within a community which values them.
Most queer-owned businesses, on the other hand, are seeing the parade of disposable wealth passing them by, with very little to no support beyond Pride..
This niche community and business sector has been hard-hit by the pandemic and requires more support – equaling an unexplored opportunity for loyalty to non-LGBTQ+ businesses and brands that support them.
How can businesses and corporations engage with the community for mutually beneficial results beyond June? Within the community, efforts are being made to build discoverability for those connections.
Daniel Northway-Frank, is a queer father and the founder of The Queer Shopping Network. Their mission is activating the buying power of the LGTBQ+ spectrum and their supporters, friends, family, colleagues for discovering products, and businesses and corporations to make partnerships in their promotional branding slate.
“We know that the LGBTQ+ community is self-supportive, and around them are spheres of queer-positive networks, so we’re developing a discoverability mechanism that builds critical mass of all these communities and activating their support through e-commerce, promotion, and CSR related partnerships with organizations.”
Where community and business service discoverability are concerned, RainbowConnect.ca is a growing force in Canada as a network for LGBTQ+ friendly businesses and organizations. Scott Cameron is a Calgary-based entrepreneur and he’s drawn on decades of community and social development expertise to create a small business with a social purpose.
“As RainbowConnect.ca grows, LGBTQ+ Canadians will have a resource directory to draw on regardless of where they live, work, play, study, or visit. We’re all looking to support businesses that provide safe and friendly spaces year round – especially when we’re trying to find tradespeople and professionals that are coming into our homes or delivering services that are more personal in nature.”
The platform is designed to actively engage local community organizations and creates opportunities for them to generate sustainable revenue.
Rob Samulewitsch, owner of Toronto-based branding and promotional products supplier, Sourcing Central understands the positive impact that placement of sponsorship branding can have on internal business communities.
“With reopening dates upon us, it’s time for staff morale reinvestment which can include corporate and business CPR policies. These entities have a great opportunity as people return to the workplace environment to create branded “welcome-back kits” with both office essentials along diverse and inclusive fun items to reignite the power of interpersonal work relationships. A little acknowledgement and lived-experience thoughtfulness is a great initiative to strengthen this connective tissue of your business.”
How can businesses show their support?
- Create a year round LGBTQ+ positive communications and marketing plan, Be inclusive with your images and customer stories from this demographic
- Get involved in supporting local festivals, events, conferences with sponsorship, which gives your business an opportunity to provide swag or brand products for LGBTQ+ attendees
- Get included in LGBTQ+ friendly business directories
- During CSR initiatives like Giving Tuesday, create a campaign that supports a local LGBTQ non-profit organization
- Support fundraising efforts at LGBTQ+ organizations through tickets or table purchases for your members.
The Queer Shopping Network kicked-off its soft launch during Pride Toronto: Phygital Festival 2021, in partnership with Rogers Sports & Media’s Today’s Shopping Choice (formerly The Shopping Channel) and Pride Toronto. For more information, head over to www.thequeershoppingnetwork.com.