Gay men and women are among the first to adopt new devices and online tools, making them an important demographic for online marketers. For the first time, Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) asked respondents to its annual Consumer Technographics® Benchmark Study of 60,000 households to indicate their sexual orientation. “Gays Are The Technology Early Adopters You Want” includes data on device adoption and online behavior by gay men and women, as well as recommendations on how to best market to this influential group.

“Gay men and women are tech-savvy consumers who use the Internet and tech devices at significantly higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts for shopping, banking, entertainment, and community building,” said Jed Kolko, principal analyst at Forrester. “Marketers need to take a close look at the consumer behavior of gay men and women to determine a strategy in targeting a group of consumers who have been consistently overlooked.”

In addition to being wealthier and better educated, gay men and women are avid Internet users. Eighty percent of gay men and 76 percent of lesbians are online, compared with 70 percent of straight men and 69 percent of straight women. Gays are also one-third more likely to have broadband connections and have been online longer than heterosexuals. Twenty-nine percent of gay men and women have been online for more than seven years, versus 18 percent of heterosexuals.

Although any group of higher-income, more highly educated consumers will be earlier adopters of technology, significant differences in gays’ technology behavior emerged after adjusting statistically for online tenure and demographic differences. Gay men, for example, are more likely to own portable MP3 players and browser-enabled phones, and they are more than two times likelier to own a personal video recorder (PVR) device like TiVo. Gay men and women also turn to the Internet in higher numbers for entertainment and community-building activities. The Internet makes it easier for gays to meet online without the pressures of losing one’s anonymity and provides a link to the gay community through tools like text chat, instant messaging, and personal Web pages.

In an effort to reach gay consumers, Forrester recommends that marketers target gay audiences directly by advertising in gay publications and at gay events. Additionally, because gay men and women differ from heterosexuals in many of the same ways when it comes to consumer behavior, marketers can treat the gay market as a single audience. It may be best, however, to avoid asking consumers about their sexual orientation for direct marketing purposes. Twenty percent of respondents did not answer Forrester’s sexual orientation question ¿- for the time being, inquiring about consumers’ sexuality may not be worth the effort and potential of alienating consumers.

The research mentioned in this press release is available to Forrester WholeView™ clients and can be found through