IBM Corporation: Targeting the LGBT Segment

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG217 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Consumer Behavior / Market Segmentation / Target Marketing
Case Length : 26 Pages
Period : 1997-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : IBM Corporation
Industry : Computers, IT and ITeS
Countries : USA


This case discusses about the target marketing strategies of New York-based information technology major IBM Corporation (IBM), directed toward the LGBT community. The company pitched its products to the LGBT customers by using advertisements targeted at them. The target marketing strategies included advertising in gay publications, online marketing, sponsoring events and conferences supporting LGBT people, etc. It also set up an LGBT sales team dedicated to serve the LGBT customers. The company extended its LGBT diversity initiatives to its suppliers by choosing to do business with vendors belonging to the LGBT community.

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Experts felt that with the increasing competition, mainstream marketers like IBM were targeting this niche segment since LGBT customers were affluent, educated, and had more disposable income than other customers. Moreover, they felt that the risk of alienating the existing mainstream customers outweighed since LGBT customers were more loyal toward a brand.


Analyze the marketing strategies of IBM for targeting the LGBT segment.

Discuss the benefits in targeting a niche segment.

Examine the risks involved in targeting a niche segment.

Appreciate IBM's diversity initiatives directed toward its employees and its suppliers.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
Targeting the LGBT Market 4
Results 10
Looking Ahead 12
Exhibits 13


Market segmentation, Targeting, Consumer behavior, Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, LGBT, Target marketing, LGBT advertising, Online marketing, Sponsorships, LGBT sales team, Niche segment, Purchasing power, Brand loyal, Disposable income, Early adopters, Purchase decision, Diversity, Diversity training, Gender identity, Sexual orientation, Supplier diversity, Human rights campaign, Corporate equality index, Equal employment opportunity, IBM

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