What Is Rainbow Capitalism?
‘Rainbow capitalism’, sometimes called ‘pink capitalism’ is the action of companies claiming to support the LGBTQ+ community, but they’re only profiting from merchandise, capitalizing on trends.
Often the month of June sees an influx of brands marketing their support of the LGBTQ+ community, many using rainbow logos and themed merchandise to boost their bottom line.
This show of solidarity can be positive, connecting the community and making it more accessible to allies. However instead of LGBTQ+ protests and the fight for sexual equality being at the forefront of the pride month hype, large corporations are exploiting the rainbow for company profit.
Why Is It Relevant Today?
Many Gen-Z consumers are involved in social and political justice, especially fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, this means that markets targeting the younger generation are more liberal and inclusive.
Brands such as Bud-Light, Target and North Face have recently faced boycotts by conservative, right-wing and anti-LGBTQ+ believers for selling rainbow merchandise and including gay, trans or non-binary activists in their marketing campaigns.
“This rainbow capitalist culture is distressing, especially when you consider how many companies fail to support the LGBTQ community when it counts.”
It’s imperative to champion brands that don’t just slap a rainbow on their logo for June, but represent LGBTQ+ charities, protests and initiatives all year.
5 Brands That Support LGBTQ+ All Year Round
It’s important that large corporations outwardly support the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other oppressed groups. Using their power and sway in the market and encouraging consumers to be more accepting can create real change.
Market leaders that consistently support LGBTQ+ include: Google, Apple, Amazon, Disney, Ikea, Walmart, Lego, Coca-Cola, M&Ms, Burger-King and Starbucks. Ikea specifically was one of the first brands to ever include a gay couple in their adverts, supporting pride since 1994.
If you’re looking for Pride in inclusivity from makeup brands, look to brand giants like Olay, Maybelline, Loreal, Morphe and MAC cosmetics. MAC who has supported the LGBTQ+ community since 1994 also donated 100% of profits from their ‘Viva Glam’ lipstick campaign to charities helping those living with HIV and AIDS.
Those that want to buy from footwear and sports brands that support the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year should look to: Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Converse, Vans, Ugg and Teva. Adidas specifically have a partnership with the Trevor Project, the world's largest LGBTQ+ suicide prevention organisation and has used inclusive marketing since 1999, paving the way for rainbow inclusion in the sports industry.
Fashion brands that donate to charities and continuously prove their LGBTQ+ loyalty are clothing retailers like Asos, Levi Strauss-&-Co, North-Face, Lucy-&-Yak, Ralph-Lauren, Gap and Abercrombie-&-Fitch. Levi was one of the only major retailers to donate to the AIDS Crisis in 1982, and in 1992 openly created a safe space for LGBTQ+ consumers through their brand.
Moving Towards Authentic Pride Branding
The aim across every industry is full acceptance of all sexualities, positively reinforced with authentic branding, merchandise and advertising.
Companies need to be held to higher standards by consumers to include genuine, impactful LGBTQ+ representation. Creating a world where brands that are not inclusive are called out and encouraged to do better and those that are authentically supportive, celebrated.