Along with a lot of controversy, the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, the first state to do so, may bring with it something else: a new bit of niche marketing.
Nambe, a New Mexico-based design company, has announced that it will send wedding gifts to any gay couples married between Monday, May 17 and Monday, May 24 in Massachusetts. The couples must send the company a copy of their marriage certificate and a short explanation of what getting married means to them. The event coincides with the launch of its online gift registry last month at Nambe.com. The company will send these newlyweds its Planar bowl set, starting in June while supplies last.
A lot of Nambe's programs have been focused on marriage and the company counts itself as one of the top wedding registry brands in the U.S, according to Nambe's director of marketing Suzanne O'Leary Lopez. The company has already given away free gifts through bridal events with wedding magazines like In Style, Conde Nast's Bride and Modern Bride where the magazines invite subscribers in the area.
"We were following the news more and more, and saw this as a great way to reach out to a new group entering the wedding market," O'Leary Lopez said.
She added: "The gay market is fairly upscale and is a good target market."
It is a lucrative market. A May 16th New York Times article cited an estimate that the nation's lesbian and gay market comprises of approximately 14 million to 16 million people with a projected buying power of $485 billion a year. Forbes recently estimated the potential market for gay marriages could be as high as $16.8 billion.
"From a PR standpoint, we saw a news opportunity as a way to give back to Nambe's customers, while getting media attention," said David Kellis, VP of consumer brands at Edelman's San Francisco office. Edelman is the AOR for Nambe's PR, advertising and web marketing efforts.
O'Leary Lopez said that while Nambe understands that companies risk being misread anytime they pursue a new approach, they are not lobbying for a political cause.
"Our position is that we're just extending goodwill," she said.
While Edelman does have a diversity solutions group, the company felt this move was mainstream enough to be handled by the consumer brands division. Nambe added information for receiving the gift in their customer service section of its website that provides registering couples with the information. The company asked for the explanation of what getting married means to them because it would provide better market research for Nambe to better serve this set of customers, according to Kellis.
"Since it's a unique time in history, it would be interesting to hear about what the experience meant to them," Kellis said.
James Brodsky of Sharp Edge, a boutique PR firm that focuses on helping major brands maintain brand heritage while reaching the affluent gay market, said that recent research indicates that 41% of gay Americans subscribe to lifestyle, d?cor and design magazines, versus 30% of all Americans.
"Nambe clearly recognizes the business opportunity in targeting gay consumers. Based on the research, it's a smart move," Brodsky said.