Lure of the 'pink rupee': Why Indian firms are investing in LGBT events

Indian corporates like Adi Godrej's Godrej Group and condoms maker DKT India are now tapping into the growing purchasing power of the queer community and latching on to the idea of 'pink money' in their brand positioning.

'Pink' money denotes the purchasing power of the gay community and how it has traversed from being a fringe or marginalised market to a thriving industry.

According to a report in the Economic Times, the only lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) film festival in India,Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival , is attracting Indian firms to finance it.

Lure of the pink rupee: Why Indian firms are investing in LGBT events

The increasing numbers of people coming out of the closet are part of an attractive consumer segment.

Three years ago only development agencies like UNDP andAmnesty International would finance the event. But it has come a long way since its launch in 2010. Last year, the festival's biggest sponsors were two financial powerhouses,Barclaysand Nomura.

According to the ET report, filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan who had launched the event, has been in talks with several other LGBT-friendly corporates likeIBM, Cisco,GoogleandMicrosoft. And he hopes to get them aboard next year.

So, why are the companies interested in investing in LGBT events?

The increasing numbers of people coming out of the closet are part of an attractiveconsumer segment and it's a good opportunity for companies to discover their branding opportunities andtap the growing purchasing power of the queer community.

According to a 2009 study by Forbes India andOut Now Consulting, a global consultancy firm, the percentage of Indian adult population belonging to LGBT is at four percent, amounting to 30 million people. "It pays to be LGBT friendly, as many of these consumers are "DINK" - double income, no kids - and thus have a greater disposable income," notes the Forbes article.

"Our research shows that in most populations, around six percent of the adult population is lesbian or gay. Applying that to India suggests that just under $200 billion (six percent of GDP) can be assumed to be earned income from India's estimated 45 million gay and lesbian adults,"Ian Johnson, chief executive of OutNowConsulting told IANS.

Places such as Philadelphia have benefited by catering to this segment. In fact, for every dollar invested in gay tourism, $153 was returned in direct visitor spending by the gays. The US LGBT market is pegged at $600 billion and 90 percent of that market shuns actively anti-gay companies.

Not surprising, that Indian investors are also willing to spend on this market given the kind of returns they are likely to get.

How are companies focusing their marketing strategy?

DKT India, a subsidiary of the Washington-basedDKT International, which makes the Zaroor brand of condoms is one of the biggestfinanciersof the film festival. Last year, DKT used the film festival to launch its Zaroor Plus range, giving away free samples.

Another sponsor, theGodrej Group, organised a Kashish curtain raiser last week at its headquarters in Mumbai, where several short films were screened, said the ET report.

But its not just about this particular event.

Brands like Levi's, Hajmola and Amul have also targetted this segment in their advertisements. While Levi's featured two female models cosying up to each other, the Amul butter ads showed the Amul mascot offering buttered slices of bread to two girls and with the caption: 'Out of Closet, Out of Fridge!'

Larger corporations such as Virgin Mobile and Hindustan Times have also increasingly used LGBT-friendly messages to promote their brand in advertisements, with taglines such as "It's time to open our minds".

The 'Come Out of the Closet' campaign by Titan's Fasttrack also featured twowomenliterally stepping out of a closet.

These companies have not invested in LGBT events yet. But, that may not take too long given that one of the biggest LGBT events in the country is being held in Goa this year.IndjapInk, which claims to be the country's first and only gay boutique travel agency, has organised a "Life is a Beach" package which promises a 'sexy tour' around Goa.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 20:47:57 IST