Key Insights From the First China LGBT Community Survey

Community Marketing and Insights has released their results of the 1st China LGBT Community Survey. The survey tacked demographics, the concept of being ‘out’, travel and communications in the largest LGBT market currently in the world. Here are some of their findings.

Sexuality is still a sensitive issue in China, with conservative social norms still heavily in place. Discrimination is still occurring but society as a whole is working on increasing inclusiveness. The LGBT community is on the rise and emerging as a valuable one. Even though the community makes up just 4-5 percent of the population, the value of their market is estimated at about USD$470 billion.


According to the data LGBT consumers were only slightly more likely than heterosexual consumers to take a vacation in a foreign country or Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan in the past 12 months. However, LGBT consumers were slightly less likely to take a domestic trip in the past 12 months. 

Almost twice the amount of lesbians and bisexual women as men were likely to take a holiday in a foreign country or Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan. The numbers were closer regarding domestic trips taken in the past 12 months, with 68 percent of women and 53 percent of men doing so. Cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, were the most popular domestic destinations for those travelling.

Popular international destinations were mainly Asia-based, with 81 percent of those travelling to a foreign country staying within the continent. Hong Kong, Thailand and Macao came out on top for both men and women. Europe saw fewer incoming travelers, with only 14 percent. Popular countries include France, Germany and the UK. In the U.S., well known LGBT-friendly cities were the most popular. San Francisco was the most popular destination for both gay and bisexual men and LGBT travelers over 25, while New York was the most popular destination for lesbians and bisexual women and travelers between 18 and 25. LA and Washington, DC, were not far behind in all categories.

LGBT consumers travel with a variety of straight and LGBT friends, partners and family. Gay men and bisexual men indicated more single travel on their most recent trip, compared to women, who traveled more with same-sex partners. LGBT consumers were much less likely to travel with organized groups, with only 9 percent of men and 5 percent of women travelling with non-LGBT organizations and 2 percent of men and 0 percent of women travelling with LGBT organizations.

In regards to accommodation, budget and mid-range hotels were most popular, while those traveling internationally made more boutique and luxury hotel bookings.

LGBT event travel had low numbers, with only 16 percent of gay and bisexual men and 22 percent of lesbian and bisexual women. LGBT circuit parties and dance events were most popular amongst men, while community events were most popular amongst women. Results also indicated more lesbian- and women-specific event travel over general-interest events, such as pride events.

Corporate Support

Corporate support proved to be a popular issue in China and remains a large influencer within the community on purchase decisions. Among both male and female travelers, those that saw corporations reach out to the community through support for LGBT political causes, laws and employment policies were viewed most favorably. On the other hand, advertising in LGBT online publications and advertising on LGBT websites were the least influential.


The survey also tackled how businesses are most effectively reaching the LGBT community through advertisements and social media. Both men and women are interacting with advertising similarly. Scanning QR tags, purchasing a deal from a group-buying website like Living Social and social media reviews were the most popular forms of interaction. Following business on China’s popular microblogging website Weibo proved effective, especially amongst women.

Being 'Out'

Being out is still a sensitive topic in China. While men and women surveyed were both equally unlikely to be completely out (only 3 percent and 5 percent respectively), lesbians and bisexual women surveyed were far more likely to be somewhat out with friends, family and colleagues compared to gay and bisexual men, and far less likely (9%) than men (30%) to indicate that they were completely closeted. Those who are more “out” and involved in China’s emerging LGBT community tend to be young adults.

Social Media

Among the different age groups statistics on social media remain similar. Popular Chinese microblogging site Weibo was more popular among young students versus Wechat, which was more popular with those 25+. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were much less popular than Chinese social platforms.