Is there a case to be made for marketing consumer packaged goods to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBT)? Do the resources devoted to targeting this particular audience really pay off?

In a discussion at the 2005 "Reaching Out" conference held in Boston on February 5th, a group of panelists from the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry shared their experiences on the internal and external challenges of marketing to gay and lesbian consumers. The conference was organized by gay and lesbian students at Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Yale School of Management.

Gary Osifchin, a brand manager at SC Johnson, said his company is good at talking about diversity from a business perspective. "It all ties back into the bottom line. It's about reaching out to diverse consumers and making sure that you have a sound business rationale for doing so." The difficulty lies in the lack of available research. "You don't have the typical data that you have for other targets," noted Osifchin. "I know that in Glade aerosols I have a $2.2 million share gap opportunity among the Hispanic population of air freshener buyers and a $2.8 million opportunity among African American consumers. I can take numbers like that to management."

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