More than 41,000 respondents from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) communities in 131 countries participated in the 11th annual survey. 180+ LGBT media, events and organizations worldwide partnered with CMI in this year's study, helping to gain wide representation from across the community.
A sample of 2017 key findings of 17,300 LGBTs living in the United States:
LGBT-friendly Perceptions of Country, State and Community: 56% of LGBT community members living the United States consider the United States to be LGBT-friendly, compared to 98% of Canadians who consider Canada to be LGBT-friendly. However, most LGBT-participants in the United States considered their local community to be LGBT-friendly ( 82% ), which may be an indication that LGBTs move to places where they feel more welcome. This has important implications for local communities in attracting employees and tax dollars. The state-by-state analysis was most fascinating, as people living in "blue" states had high praise for their state and local community, and those living in deep "red" states had negative perceptions of their state, but more positive perceptions of their local community.
LGBT Rights, Safety, and Equality: With the changing political environment in the United States, the LGBT community may feel less secure than it did in the recent past. 82% indicated that they fear the loss of LGBT civil rights recently gained.
Overall, LGBT community members are negative about the political and social direction of the country across every indicator tested, with 85% indicating that the country is heading in the wrong direction, and 85% reporting increased fear of hate crime violence.
Top LGBT-Friendly Corporations: Every year, CMI asks an unaided "write-in" recall question about brands that participants make a conscious decision to purchase from, because of their pro-LGBT policies or practices in the past 12 months. In 2017, we saw Target, Apple, Starbucks and Amazon retain their top four rankings. New to the top 12 rankings are Disney, Nike, and Ben & Jerry's.
Supporting LGBT-friendly companies: 88% of LGBT participants indicated that corporations that support LGBT equality are more important than ever, and 77% indicated that companies that support LGBT equality "will get more of my business this year."
Power of LGBT Business Spending: Many studies have focused on the power of LGBT consumer spending. This study looks at LGBT spending from a different perspective: CMI estimates that there are about 3.5 million LGBT Americans who work for corporations or own their own businesses, and control at least some part of their business spending budget. Of these workers, 58% said that they at least sometimes decide to purchase from known LGBT-friendly companies on behalf of their employers or their own companies. Through an analysis of the study data, CMI estimates that the value of "LGBT consumer loyalty-influenced business purchases" spending to be about U.S. $18.8 billion dollars, annually.
Positive Economic Outlook: The LGBT community generally has a positive economic outlook, with 51% viewing their economic situation favorably, 34% neutrally, and 15% negatively. There was not a significant overall index change in economic outlook since 2016, but there was a small downgrade of those who felt "very positive," moving to just "positive."
LGBT vs. LGBTQ: One of the most common questions that CMI has received from clients over the past several years is whether corporations should move from addressing the community as "LGBT" to "LGBTQ." Based on recent data, CMI believes that both can now be used safely. The advantages of "LGBT" are that the term is more favored across the diversity of the community, has higher favorable rates among Baby Boomers, and the term is often perceived as being "safer" by corporations. However, we have tracked "LGBTQ" as making significant gains in the past few years, has the most support among Millennials, and now has minimal negatives across any demographic group. The big shift from last year is that for the first time, LGBTQ now has an over 50% approval rating among Baby Boomers.
Use of "Gay-friendly" as a term: "LGBT-friendly" is far more popular than the historical term of "gay-friendly", which can now be seen as exclusionary of the L, B and T. Importantly, the term "gay-friendly" now has a non-positive rating among Millennials, who prefer "LGBT-friendly." CMI advises corporation to use care in the use of terminology, which means avoiding terms such as, "gay-friendly," or "gay neighborhoods," and instead using "LGBT-friendly" and "LGBT neighborhoods."
Relationship Trends: Marketers should not assume that gay men and lesbians are "in relationships" in the same proportion. The study clearly shows major differences between genders when it comes to relationship status, which has important implications for marketers. 42% of gay and bisexual men consider themselves single, compared to 27% of lesbian and bisexual women, and 38% of gender expansive* research participants.
Marriage Equality: The pace of same-sex marriages is beginning to slow. This is not surprising, since the "backlog" of same-sex couples have had multiple years to actually get married. 12% of those survey participants who indicated that they were married, said the ceremony was in the past year, compared to 24% 1 to 2 years ago. CMI expects this percentage to further decrease this coming year as we start to enter a more "stable" era for same-sex wedding rates, perhaps ultimately mirroring the general population.
Recognition of Non-Binary Relationships: Many think of relationships as being between same-sex or opposite-sex couples. However, the reality is that many LGBT community members are in a relationship where one of more partners does not consider themselves as male or female. The report for the first time attempts to recognize and quantify relationships for gender expansive identities.
* The survey's Gender Expansive category includes participants who identify as transgender, trans men, trans women, genderqueer, gender fluid, non-binary ( gender ), and/or intersex.