Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), May 2015-April 2016 (n=14,426). Base: Australians 14+
Used to describe the purchasing power of the gay community, the term ‘pink dollar’ has been part of the Australian vernacular for many years. High-profile campaigns such as the ANZ’s LGBTI-inspired GAYTMs for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Canon’s sponsorship of the Bingham Cup, show that big business certainly recognises the importance of the pink dollar – and the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research suggest that everyday retailers should too.
As of March 2016, 5.2% of Australian men and 3.1% of women agreed with the statement, ‘I consider myself homosexual’*. While they comprise a relatively low proportion of the total population, gay men and women display distinct attitudes to shopping and purchasing behaviours that reveal their value as a consumer group.
For example, whereas 6.2% of straight Australian men agree with the statement, ‘I was born to shop’, this figure jumps to 19.1% of gay men. Gay men are also much more likely than their straight counterparts to agree they ‘enjoy clothes shopping’ (41.9% vs 23.3%). Meanwhile, 37.6% of gay men say they ‘will buy a product because of the label’ compared with 23.3% of straight men.
The shopping attitudes of gay and straight Australians
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), May 2015-April 2016. Base: Australians 14+
Shopping attitudes also vary to a certain extent between gay and straight women: for example, 22.8% of gay women agree they are ‘born to shop’ (compared with 18.6% of straight women), and 32.9% say they ‘will buy a product because of the label’ (compared with 20.3% of straight women). They also over-index for their gender when it comes to enjoying grocery shopping (61.7% vs 49.6%) but are less likely than straight women to ‘enjoy clothes shopping’ (48.8% vs 52.2%).
Attitudes into action
Importantly for retailers, these enthusiastic attitudes to shopping translate into purchases. Clothing is a striking example, with gay men and women consistently spending more on all types of clothing for their gender than their straight counterparts.
Outerwear – which takes in everything from suits and jackets/coats to women’s dresses and skirts – accounts for biggest expenditure by all shoppers, whether straight, gay, female or male. Gay men spend the most: an average of $90 on men’s outerwear per four-week period, followed by gay women ($79 on women’s outerwear), straight men ($73) and straight women ($60).
The average clothing spends of gay and straight shoppers in an average four weeks
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2015-March 2016 (n=14,426). Base: Australians 14+. NB: Outerwear=sportswear, jumpers, shirts/tops/blouses, denim jeans, trousers/pants/shorts, jackets/coats, suits, skirts, dresses. Underwear: excludes hosiery and socks.
Gay men also spend the most (an average of $66 per four weeks) on sleepwear for their gender, while gay women have the highest average spend for underwear ($58 per four weeks).
The upshot of all this? Although gay men make up just 5.2% of Australian males, they account for 11.0% of the dollars spent by men on men’s clothing. Meanwhile, 3.1% of Aussie women identify as homosexual but account for 3.7% of the dollars spent by women on women’s clothing. Pink or not, these dollars are valuable.
* NB: Whether this is an entirely accurate representation of Australia’s gay population is debatable: for a detailed discussion about this, please see our story ‘Is Australia getting gayer – and how gay will we get?’
Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The power of the pink dollar is no urban myth – our data shows that Australians who identify as homosexual tend to spend more on clothes and be more engaged with shopping than straight Aussies. Yet, contrary to clichés of childless gay couples being flush with cash, Australian men who identify as homosexual earn a lower average income than straight men ($44,000 vs $57,000 p.a), with a similar discrepancy between gay ($31,000) and straight ($36,000) women.
“This doesn’t stop them spending up on almost all sub-categories of outerwear: for example, in an average four weeks, a gay man who buys a suit will spend about $441, a substantially higher amount than the $351 spent by straight men. Meanwhile, the average gay woman spends around $89 on women’s skirt/s, compared with $48 for straight women.
“But the power of the pink dollar stretches beyond clothing: gay Australians spend higher-than-average amounts on several other retail categories such as homewares, small electrical goods, personal entertainment and cameras, and sporting equipment. Retailers keen to know the best way of boosting their profile with this influential retail segment would benefit from the in-depth and holistic consumer data that only Roy Morgan Single Source can provide.”
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