Progress and Predictions: How Brands Will Represent LGBTQIA+ Folks in 2024Dec 19, 2023
2023 brought both positives and negatives when it came to LGBTQIA+ representation in marketing and media. On the one hand, locally we saw the economic boon of Sydney World Pride, bringing $185.6M to the NSW economy. On the other hand, we also saw major brands capitulate when their attempts at inclusive marketing received backlash.
As we look ahead to 2024, what might the future hold for how brands represent LGBTQIA+ people in their media and marketing efforts? Here are some of my predictions to watch out for:
Authentic, Year-Round Representation
I think Pride-specific campaigns will stagnate, possibly even decline. In their place, brands will move beyond surface-level (and opportunistic) rainbow washing and embrace year-round representation. 2024 will be a year of walking the walk when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Companies need to avoid tokenism and back up their messaging by hiring LGBTQIA+ talent, training employees, and depicting diverse, queer stories in mainstream ads year-round.
Multiple, Relatable and Diverse Ambassadors
The trend away from the larger-than-life celebrity spokesperson will continue, with brands opting to work with a diverse array of relatable, down-to-earth influencers and "real people" to convey their messages. Curating a pool of lesser-known ambassadors provides an opportunity to represent a spectrum of identities, LGBTQIA+ and otherwise.
Continued Political Targeting
While it is generally uncontroversial to have a diverse sexuality in secular settings, we can expect to see gender-diverse people continue to be used as political pawns in 2024. Lawmakers, particularly in the US, will likely continue efforts to roll back transgender rights and healthcare access, attempting to rally their bases through identity warfare. This hateful targeting of an already vulnerable population for political gain needs to be called out for what it is. Brands that consider themselves allies of trans communities must be prepared to publicly condemn these tactics and respond positively by increasing their representation of trans joy in their marketing and media.
Fluidity Across Generations
Indulge me for a moment - this particular prediction isn't grounded in particular research or data. But I think 2024 will showcase a trend of growing gender fluidity and openness, especially among Millenials and Gen X. We already know that roughly a quarter of Gen Z identify beyond the gender binary, and I think these societal attitudes and liberating views around gender will begin to permeate across the generations. Marketers should take note—inclusive, non-conforming representations reflect the lived experiences of a key demographic.
The 2024 outlook promises both progress and work still to be done for authentic representation of LGBTQIA+ communities in marketing. But overall, the needle points towards more a human-centred approach, where brands and allies embrace their roles in advocating for (and modelling) change through understanding, empathy, advocacy and responsible allyship.