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More big brands chasing after the pink dollar (The Straits Times [Singapore])
16 Mar, 2004

MORE big brands are now dipping their feet into the once-taboo and largely ignored gay and lesbian market, with the most dramatic changes occurring over the past 12 months.

Companies such as Subaru, Ford, Qantas, Asia Pacific Breweries, Armani fragrances, Smirnoff as well as Dolce and Gabbana are among the advertisers that have jumped into the niche customer segment, attracted by its seemingly attractive demographics.

All are past or current advertisers on Fridae.com, an online portal that bills itself as Asia's Gay and Lesbian Network, and some have also sponsored Fridae.com's dance events which attract thousands of party-goers from Singapore and around the region.

A key beneficiary of all this attention is Fridae.com's chief executive officer (CEO), Dr Stuart Koe, who sees an increasing willingness by advertisers to consider the gay community as a lucrative market.

'Advertising to the gay community still hasn't taken off in Asia yet but over the years, companies are more receptive to what we have to say to them.

'They realise that a dollar is a dollar, and business is business,' he says.

When he started Fridae.com three years ago, he had to 'knock on a lot of doors' to convince advertisers to work with him.

But in the past year, Fridae.com has been getting more calls from big brands and companies keen to advertise, he says.

He attributes this to changing attitudes in Singapore towards homosexuality.

More importantly, though, he believes that advertisers are also looking for an alternative media through which to attract some of Singapore's most lucrative customers.

According to Fridae.com, of its registered membership database of 120,000, around half earn more than $45,000 a year. As much as 20 per cent take home more than $108,000 a year.

And more than 40 per cent of its members are professionals, managers, executives and business people, or PMEBs.

Dr Koe says: 'These are the types of people who apply for credit cards, travel and spend a lot on themselves. They have no kids and, like single women, they have high disposable incomes.'

But he concedes that not all companies are happy to be associated with the gay community for fear of a backlash.

Some of Fridae.com's advertisers, which include credit card companies and a leading technology company, have also asked the portal not to publicise their involvement.

One advertiser which is not shy to be associated with Fridae.com is Subaru. MotorImage CEO Glenn Tan says Subaru started advertising with Fridae.com last year. His company is the distributor for Subaru in Singapore.

MotorImage takes its lead from Subaru in the United States where the brand is popular with the gay community, he said.

'Subaru is an active lifestyle brand which targets people who go out a lot and are very trendy. We do not discriminate. We target all forms of media, it's not a matter of us backing one form of media or lifestyle,' he said.

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