Whether they are targeting gay consumers or not, companies need to be careful with their marketing strategies. The LGBTQ community is not a homogenous group and if marketers make a mistake they could be in danger of offending and alerting heterosexual audiences. One way to avoid this is by avoiding explicit gay references and homosexual stereotypes. Instead, they can use codes that can be interpreted by homosexuals but also by heterosexuals and create visuals that are ambiguous as to gender or sexuality.
Most gay consumers are appreciative of brands that make an effort to engage with them specifically. However, they do not expect any particular benefits in return. In fact, they might even feel slighted if a company only rolls out gay-themed ads at Pride and then forgets about the community the rest of the year.
For example, if an advertiser uses gay-themed images in washroom advertising but then does not use them again the year after, it may send a message that the company is only interested in gay customers at one time of the year and then does not care about them at other times. The result is that the company does not establish a long-term relationship with its target market.
Another issue is that many companies are hesitant to use specialised media to reach gay consumers because they fear a negative reaction from heterosexuals. This fear is not totally irrational because research has shown that heterosexual consumers are sometimes negatively influenced by the inclusion of gay themes in marketing communications.