NEW YORK: Wells Fargo, the financial services group, has successfully built its status as a source of expertise for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) customers – thus differentiating itself in a crowded market.

Roxanne Gray, Wells Fargo's vp/market research manager, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2015 Re:Think Conference in New York.

"Our commitment to diversity is a big part of who we are as a company," she reported. "It's part of our fabric, the vision and values of Wells Fargo." (For more, including how the brand activated its LGBT research, read Warc's exclusive report: How Wells Fargo builds storylines for LGBT audiences.)

Such a commitment has been reflected in the fact Wells Fargo has received consistently strong ratings from The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT lobbying group, on its annual "Corporate Equality Index" for employees.

The firm's desire to engage LGBT consumers and investors was also shown on June 26, 2014, when it released research among this audience on the first anniversary of the striking down of the US Defense of Marriage Act.

Alongside marking the occasion – which gave married same-sex couples access to most of the federal rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples – this study offered a unique glimpse into the views of these customers.

Fully 62% of LGBT investors, for example, said same-sex couples had distinct financial considerations and needs from heterosexual couples, but only 49% felt comfortable going to a local bank to talk about these issues.

"We posed new questions about same-sex couples and their perspectives on money, marriage and family," said Gray.

"We wanted to understand our customers. And we wanted to generate media coverage with new insights about LGBT investors to highlight our expertise."

The company also featured a lesbian couple preparing for motherhood in a recent ad campaign, in a spot developed with BBDO.

Such an effort forms part of an increasing attempt by marketers to more accurately represent the diversity of American society, with brands like Honey Maid and Betty Crocker adopting this kind of ethos in their communications.

Data sourced from Warc