Tapping the benefits of the newly developed LGBTQ markets all over the world, a new source of money called ‘pink money’ has emerged as a major contributor towards the economic growth of the big sharks like the US, UK, and China. Decriminalizing homosexuality has made the organizations discover countless potential ventures in the existing businesses and has opened doors to new entrepreneurial ideas. Sources reveal that the LGBT population accounts for 5-10% of the total population. Economically, the community alone boasts the fourth largest GDP in the world, estimated at $4.6 trillion.
The very idea behind this emerging era of pink money is the popular concept of ‘niche’. Owing to the documented shift in marketing practices, businesses try to sync their production activities in line with the preference of target customers rather than focusing on the mainstream or mass market. The LGBTQ community feels their demands have been ignored for a long time and now, with their gradual acceptance in the society, they wish that they should be duly recognized. Thus, it wakes up the animal spirits of the businessmen to streamline their activities to the interests of this community. This is usually done by organizing events during pride month, developing social clubs and eating places, the inclusion of gay employees in boardroom meetings, introducing queer symbols on packaging, etc. Even if some homosexuals may be more rational or they may not have a specific preference, they end up being on the same page with others because of the strong connection within the community.
According to Witeck Communications, a company specializing in analyzing the LGBT market, the US equivalent from the queer business is worth $790 bn a year. China, on the other hand, with its large LGBTQ population of nearly 70 million, has experimented in various fields from community-specific bars, pubs, and hotels to social networking sites, exhibitions, tourism, etc. Today, this business represents a market worth $300bn per year making it the third-largest pink economy after the US and Europe. Furthermore, the LQBTQ night business has helped generate a brand effect and establish a reputation for the city’s nightlife as ‘gay destinations’ for countries like Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London.
The rise of pink money owes its importance to certain established characteristics of the LGBTQ community. Studies show that majority of homosexual people are comparatively richer in comparison to heterosexuals. The possible explanation for this could be that many people, due to their orthodox or economically weaker background are at a less privileged position, and therefore, they can’t afford to have the same social awareness and acceptance as rich queer people which makes them conceal their sexual identity. Another important consideration is the smaller family size. Queer couples raise children less frequently, which translates to greater disposable income on average in comparison to the heterosexual couples. The abundance of resources makes them enjoy high standards of lifestyle, association with brand consciousness, and loyalty.
India has been losing as much as $30 billion annually which nearly accounts for 1.4 percent of its national economic output because of discriminatory laws till 2018, according to calculations by the University of Massachusetts. Besides, there is a positive correlation between a nation’s level of LGBTQ inclusion and its GDP. India decriminalized homosexuality this past year, and several sources believe this new policy points to good news for India’s economic future by making the gay employees more efficient after removal of this social stigma. These are the numbers when India has not permitted all of the activities of the community. According to the figures submitted by Govt. of India to the Supreme Court in 2012, there were about 2.5 million gay people recorded in India, and these accounts only for those who have self-declared their identity to the Ministry of health. Consider the case if gay marriages become legal in India. We know that marriage is no less than any festival for the people of India. It would roughly generate around 20 billion USD alone from the marriage celebrations if it becomes legal in our country. This directs to the vastness of the potential of the pink economy in India.
Nevertheless, some critics come up with the issue of morality or exploitation due to pink money as they argue that it owes its value to the alienation of the community. They back their stance with the notion that making community-specific products, economies are basically projecting LGBTQ people like a totally different species from their heterosexual counterparts rather than bringing harmony between the two. However, it must be understood that alienation comes when a sector of society is ignored, not when it is given special attention. Targeting the gay community is not only benefitting the economy but the members, as well as they, are being accepted and given preferential treatment, thus, making them less vulnerable. Moreover, their movement is stronger than ever before due to the much larger corporate and financial support.
Notwithstanding this, we must address that a large sector of the pink economy is still untapped as a lesbian and transgender couples are living in bleak conditions and are still not widely accepted. Even the non-white gays are not much empowered in comparison to the white population. Queer people strongly support their movement and make their buying decisions very carefully and thus, they usually don’t fall for cheap marketing practices like slapping rainbows on products or launching queer models in ads. They rather ensure that the company has no past records of discrimination against the community and keep a check on their policies and work environments. So, if the companies want to attract queer customers, they need to adopt an LGBTQ friendly workforce and alter their parochial practices. I must say that given the recent developments, the future impact of the pink economy is going to be grand and revolutionary. In order to explore its full potential, a social change needs to happen in the attitude of policymakers, businesses, and the general public in their perception of the queer community.
Written By – Creamy Garg
(Creamy is a First-Year student at Hansraj College, Delhi University)