Gay Market Statistics: Facts & Misfigures
On November 8, 2001, The Globe & Mail reported that Statistics Canada was looking for ways to ask Canadians about their sexual orientation and spending $55,000 on focus groups to figure out how to phrase it.
While an interesting question, it's one that simply can't be answered accurately.
The basis for Statistics Canada statistics is one of records. Records of births. Male births. Female births. Records of deaths. Businesses. Bankruptcies. High school graduates. University graduates. And on and on.
Sexual orientation? The inherent issues are myriad.
One of the flaws of any market research regarding the gay population is the self-identifying nature of the label. As opposed to speaking to or with gay men and women, researchers are speaking with "out" gay men and women --those members of the gay population who have enough comfort in their life to be able to self-identify. Being "out" is a privilege, and as with most privileges, it is usually accorded to white upper and middle-class members of society. Ergo, the myth that gay men and women are better educated, have more disposable income, et cetera. The truth is "out" or self-identifying gay men and women are better educated, have more disposable income, et cetera, because they can afford the risk inherent with wearing that particular label. But the fact remains that they are a subset of the gay population, not the population in its entirety.
Another issue is who fills out the census form and how much information do they really possess about the people living in their home. They can presume their son and daughter is not gay, but that may not necessarily be the case. Their child could be gay. Their child could even be "out", just not "out" at home.
As a CEO of a national corporation, married with children but involved with another male, how would you respond? Particularly in light of the fact that the census package comes delivered to your doorstep? As a woman whose had three lesbian affairs, is currently single and hopes one day to marry the man of your dreams, how would you respond? As a man who had a male lover for a year in college and went on to marry his female high school sweetheart, how would you respond?
Sexuality is fluid, Alfred Kinsey knew that.
But the question is an important one, especially for marketers. The Kinsey Report is where the figure 10% of the population is gay comes from. The Yankelovich MONITOR, 1994 based on random sampling estimated the self-identifying gay population at 5.7%, with concentrations as high as 9% in large urban areas, and 4% in rural settings. (The Canadian 2001 Census estimate figure was 8.1%.)
The current population of Canada is estimated 31,413,990 people. Of those, 75% are 18 years or older. And while not scientific, estimating 5% of the general population as self-identifying as homosexual, gay or lesbian. The equation is 31,413,990 x .75 x .05 = 1,178,025 self-identifying gays and lesbians.
That unscientifically estimated figure is larger than the population of every province except Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia & Alberta. It is also larger than every city in Canada except for Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
As with the StatsCan question, it can only be an estimate. But it is food for thought.
About Wilde Marketing
Wilde Marketing is Canada's gay marketing agency offering comprehensive advertising, marketing communications, strategic and public relation services to companies who understand the value of engaging gay consumers in this country. The company is located at 2722 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4N 2H9, 416.821.3074 phone, 416.483.3513 fax.
For more information, email Wilde Marketing.
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