We know from prior research that different consumers have different emotional responses to ads that show images of gay men and women. New research shows evidence that political ideology is a key determinant, suggesting that marketers consider geopolitical segmentation and targeting to reduce potential negative outcomes to sales.
The researchers—academics and an agency planning manager—took a detailed look at political ideology, gender and sexuality in ads and the impact of each on consumer attitudes. Their work appears to be the first to find a link between consumers’ political ideology and reactions of disgust toward LGBTQ-themed ads.
Using a sample of 859 U.S.-based respondents, the authors discovered that political “conservatives (versus liberals) experienced a high level of disgust when viewing advertisements containing male-to-male homosexual imagery.” This aversion, however, was not evident when the same cohort reacted to ads that depicted female-to-female homosexuality. And, there was the same kind of equanimity for both conservative and liberal research participants when heterosexual couples were featured. A replication study reported the same outcome.
To avoid alienating conservative customers, the authors suggest the following:
Gavin Northey (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, in Queensland, Australia. He specializes in the effects of advertising on consumer decision making.
Rebecca Dolan (email@example.com) is a senior lecturer in marketing at University of Adelaide. Her research focuses on contemporary issues in marketing, such as digital disruption, social media and customer engagement.
Jane Etheridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a planning manager at Shopper Media Group Ltd. In London. She coauthored this article when she was a strategist at Dentsu Aegis Network in Auckland, New Zealand.
Felix Septianto (email@example.com) is a lecturer in marketing at University of Auckland. His work explores the influences of feelings and emotions on consumer behavior.
Patrick van Esch (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior lecturer in marketing at Aukland University of Technology. His main research interests are in artificial intelligence and consumer behavior.