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Gay homeowners continue to spend (more) on home improvements and appliances despite economic downturn

Friday Jun 12, 2009

Gay and lesbian homeowners are continuing to spend more than non-gay homeowners on home improvement projects despite the economic downturn. In fact, gay couples plan to spend 50 percent more on home improvement projects than non-gay couples over the next 12 months. These findings are part of a national consumer survey conducted in March of this year by the Chicago-based, online research agency, Socratic Technologies (, and Target 10 (, a gay and lesbian marketing agency based in New York.

Gay couples planning home improvement projects lead the way when it comes to spending. These homeowners intend to spend an average of $2,077 within the next 12 months while non-gay couples intend to spend only $1,384.

With 63 percent of gay homeowners intending to start home improvement projects within the next 12 months, it's not surprising that more than half also plan on purchasing more new home appliances or furnishings within a year's time. The kitchen in particular is high on their "to do" list. In the next 12 months, 34 percent of gay homeowners reported that they intend to replace a kitchen appliance vs. 27 percent of straight homeowners.

"Gay men and lesbians have a reputation of being major home improvement shoppers and this survey reaffirms that," said Matt Tumminello, president of Target 10. "Renovating and refurbishing homes is in many ways a part of gay culture. Even in bad economic times, they are not stopping." Over the last three years, 72 percent of gay homeowners had made home improvements.

Some of the higher spending may be attributed to the fact that gay homeowners are moving and relocating with significantly more frequency than non-gay homeowners. As consumers move, money is spent on setting up the new home, updating appliances and renovating rooms in the household. Other reasons may be tied to the higher disposable incomes found in this segment and the fact that gays and lesbians enjoy in-home entertaining more than the average consumer.

The survey also uncovered some interesting findings on how consumers shop. "We found that gay consumers are shopping in more places than straight consumers to find the items that they want. This includes both at retail stores and online," said Jeff Kerr, vice president of Socratic Technology. Gay consumers reported higher rates of shopping and purchasing at Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, Best Buy, and even the warehouse shopping club, Costco. "They are savvy shoppers who are determined to find exactly what they want and at the best price."

And what they want is high-end. Just as in other categories, gay consumers are seeking premium brand names. The Socratic-Target 10 survey found that gay homeowners were significantly more likely to seek out products from top-tier brands such as Viking, Sub Zero, Jenn-Air and Miele. And while non-gay homeowners showed a willingness to use less expensive materials during this economic downturn, this is something most gay consumers are not willing to do.

"In the last few years we've noticed very few household appliance and home improvement brands taking steps to court gay consumers and no one brand has emerged as a market leader," said Tumminello. "Gays and lesbians are famous for their brand loyalty and an opportunity exists to fill that void. Those first in, win."

Other Key Findings of the Socratic-Target 10 Survey:

  • In the next 12 months, 55 percent of gay homeowners intend to purchase or replace a major appliance or home furnishing, compared to 43 percent of straight homeowners.

  • Nearly half of straight consumers intending to purchase or replace an appliance or fixture in the next year will spend less than $500 in contrast to 65 percent of gay and lesbian consumers who plan to spend above that amount.

    When asked to rank in order of preference the features consumers wanted in a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe's:

  • Lower prices ranked higher for straight consumers;
    Knowledgeable staff ranked higher for gay consumers

  • When homeowners were asked how many times they have moved in the past 10 years, 21 percent of gay homeowners had moved three or more times, compared to 12 percent of non-gay homeowners.

  • Gay homeowners are much more inclined to hire outside professionals to do some or all of their home improvement work than straight homeowners - 55 percent vs. 38 percent.

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