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What is Rainbow washing?

Since the commercialisation of Pride events, thoughtless or tactless marketing has grown more and more weary for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Businesses can be (or in the case of large corporations, are) scrutinised for capitalising on the revenue that marketing during Pride month can bring, while also supporting various anti-LGBTQ+ causes.

Customers trust brands that show intent and follow through on their brand values.

Pride Month search term trend from 2008 to present in the USA
Figure 1: ‘Pride Month’ search term trend from 2008 to present in the USA
Figure 2: ‘Pride Clothing’, ‘Pride Socks’, and ‘Pride T Shirt’, search term trend from 2008 to present in the USA


In the United States and UK, online searches for Pride Month have increased dramatically since 2008 with terms like ‘Pride Month’, ‘Pride Clothing’, ‘Pride Clothing’, and ‘Pride Socks’ growing each year before, during and after the Pride season.

Despite a peak and a dip between June ‘18 and ‘19 of Pride-related searches in the US, we are still seeing a steady increase in Search, suggesting that June 2023 will see a rise in interest for Pride merchandise and awareness of the festivities and protests.

With such clear data showing an interest in the season, it’s no wonder that more businesses are investing in pride-related marketing year-on-year – and for good reason!

A tactful approach to marketing during the season can pay off in quite a big way in the long run.

While some eCommerce businesses opt to donate portions of profit to LGBTQ+ Charities, others may choose to spread awareness by partnering with such organisations.

Understanding whos in the QUILTBAG

When creating produce aimed for LGBTQ+ consumers, it is easy to get confused with labels, flags, and intention.

Understanding the audience is imperative to successful marketing and Pride Month is no different.

Do you know the colours in the Trans Pride Flag? Are you updated on the latest LGBTQ+ Progression Flag?

The QUILTBAG (Queer, Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Asexual, Gay) holds a spectrum of individuals who often feel lost in the rainbow washing that often occurs every June.

Who are they?

Ultimately, don’t feel overwhelmed.

With consideration, care and understanding, you can build valuable relationships with your LGBTQ+ consumers, and show your support for a diverse, passionate, loving community.

Looking to grow your business?

What Charities & Organisations Can I Support?

MindOut is a mental health service run by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people.

They work to improve the mental health and well-being of all LGBTQ communities and to make mental health a community concern¹.

Galop is a charity that provides advice and support to people who have experienced hate crimes, sexual violence or domestic abuse.

They also work with the police to improve their response to hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people².

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain.

They work with individuals, communities, organisations and institutions to create real change for the better³.

Trans charities, such as Mermaids, – are especially good for the trans attacks right now.

Further Reading  (LGBTQ+ Stereotyping within Advertising) Ad Copy and Effective Branding During Pide  “Engage LGBTQ+ Customers Without Pride-washing”  A brief history of LGBT Advertising


[1] Legum.J, Zekeria.T, 2021, These 25 rainbow flag-waving corporations donated more than $10 million to anti-gay politicians in the last two years, Popular Information,

[2] Todd.M, 2021, Pride, the Story Of the LGBTQ Equality Movement, 2nd ed, Welbeck Publishing Group, London

[3] OUT LOUD, 2021, The Impact of Marketing on Pride Month,

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