'Pink' app steers big spenders in right direction

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am


Help is at hand for members of the gay community who feel discriminated against when shopping or socialising.

Gay entrepreneur Paul Ramscar has created the Pink Dollar app to help the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community shop, eat, work out and bank at gay-friendly businesses that are trying to harness the lucrative 'pink dollar'. The app will be launched in July.

Ramscar, who is also a financier, believes his idea will benefit both consumers and businesses.

'Everyone is trying to get a slice of gay spending, so it's how to direct those customers to the different establishments,' said Ramscar, a Briton who has been involved in Hong Kong's gay community since moving to the city in 2007.

And it's gay men who stand out as the biggest spenders. 'Lesbians do spend, but they just don't spend as much as gay men,' Ramscar said.

It was an advertising agency's 2010 survey of gay men in the city that gave Ramscar the idea for the app. It found that 95 per cent of the 396 men polled said they would boycott any brand, product or service they perceived as discriminatory.

'I've been discriminated against, even in some big malls when I'm with my partner,' Ramscar said. 'There's been a tendency for the sales assistant to just take a step back. And I thought, 'Why? I should be able to shop and be free, and just be myself.''

The businesses featured in the app are approved by Ramscar. Users will pay a small fee to download it, and will receive regular deals and discounts. They will then be able to rate and review businesses based on their experience. Profits will go towards running the app and LGBT charities.

Ramscar would not say how many businesses would be featured on the app.

Each will be given stickers of the app logo to put on their storefronts, signifying they are gay friendly.

Connie Chan Man-wai, of sexual equality advocacy group Women Coalition, welcomed the app. 'Right now, the only way I can tell if a restaurant is gay-friendly is if they've placed an ad in the LGBT media,' she said.

James Wang Ching-yuan, a gay banker originally from Taiwan, is also keen to use the app, which he thinks has vast market potential given the brand loyalty of the gay community.