Some of my best spends are gay - Life and Style - The Independent

Some of my best spends are gay

How Virgin Megastore's gay shopping nights are pulling in the pink pound. Tony Naylor reports

If You thought the marketing tools of Britain's retailers were confined to club cards and air-mile offers, think again. This week, Virgin Megastore in London's Oxford Street will trash such notions when it hosts Get Ready For Pride, its eighth "gay shopping night".

Recently voted Gay Friendliest Company of the Year by readers of the Pink Paper, Virgin will also entertain its customers while parting them from their hard-earned cash, with a line-up including artiste Valerie Mason-John, aka Queenie, and DJs from G.A.Y.

Richard Keane of the charity Healthy Gay Manchester, who helped organise Virgin's gay shopping night there in May, says these events give people the opportunity to buy gay-orientated merchandise in a safe environment. "Virgin stocks a huge amount of gay videos, so it's a safe space for people to pick up the videos and not get any looks," he explains. "Also, in Manchester you can buy a lot of gay magazines, but in smaller towns, only one store may stock Gay Times and that's usually on the top shelf with the porno mags."

One of several companies targeting the pink pound, Virgin's relationship with the gay community is decidedly "out". Not only does the company hold gay shopping nights, it also sponsors the gay festival Pride and pressure group Stonewall, and publishes direct-mail gay magazine-cum-catalogue, Crash Bang Wallop. And while many mainstream companies still feel advertising aimed at the gay community carries a stigma, a growing number are eager to jump on the bandwagon. British Airways has launched gay-orientated package holidays in the States, while a huge range of companies, from stereo manufacturers Marantz to financial consultants Frizzell, have placed advertisements in the gay press.

"The gay market, per se, isn't great," says Liz Mackenzie, organiser of Marketing Week magazine's recent conference, Marketing to the Pink Economy, "but they really do set the trends. They haven't got more money but they spend it in very sociable ways."

The gay community is very loyal to gay-friendly companies and many firms - Levi, United Airlines and Virgin, among others - have adopted marketing strategies that extend their interest beyond the products they are selling. Sponsorship of Pride, Stonewall or The Terrence Higgins Trust means putting your reputation where your ad strategy is. "Doing something constructive, like putting money into Pride, gets talked about," according to Mackenzie.

While HMV, Virgin's rival, has no plans to join the fray, it may be time it did, warns Watson: "The message is becoming, more and more, 'ignore the gay market at your peril'."

Get Ready For Pride, Virgin Megastore, Oxford Street, London, Thursday, 3 July, between 8.30pm and 10.30pm.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Bookkeeper / Accounts Administrator - Central London, £30-40k

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Bookkeeper - Central London, £30-40k...

    Permanent KS2 Teacher required

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: A Redbridge based Primary School is see...

    NVQ Assessor Level 2 & 3 Sport Development

    £19200 - £26880 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: In NVQ Ass...

    Secondary supply teachers required in Newmarket

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week