A growing number of gay men and lesbians made a conscious decision to purchase from brands such as JCPenney, Starbucks and Target in the last year because of these companies' support for the LGBT community, new survey results show.

San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc. released its 2012 LGBT Community Survey last week, which shows trends in decision-making and buying patterns across the gay community. Roughly 14,000 U.S. respondents participated in this year's survey.

When asked which brands they supported because of pro-LGBT policies in the last year, JCPenney (34%), Starbucks (16%), Target (15%), Absolut Vodka (14%) and Apple Inc. (12%) led the field among gay men. The top five among lesbian respondents were JCPenney (47%), Starbucks (18%), Target (15%), Subaru (5%) and Wells Fargo (4%).

On the technology front, more gays and lesbians purchased smartphones and tablets in the last year, while laptop purchases declined (perhaps due to the rise of the tablet). According to the survey, 82% of lesbians and 91% of gay men now own smartphones, up 23% from 2011.

LGBT consumers are also more likely than the average U.S. consumer to make self-improvement purchases such as gym memberships (38% vs. 24% national average), spa treatments/massages (35% vs. 17%) and paid educational classes of any kind (27% vs. 14%).

When it comes to media consumption, most respondents said they continue to read LGBT newspapers and national magazines about the same as they have in the past. However, gays and lesbians appear to be increasing their consumption of LGBT websites, blogs and email newsletters.

Roughly half of gay men and lesbians report having donated to an LGBT nonprofit in the last year, with most citing the importance of LGBT causes to them personally as the primary motivating factor.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • Straight men drink 3 times more beer than gay men, but gay men drink 50% more spirits/cocktails than straight men. Lesbians consume similar amounts of alcohol beverages as straight women.
  • In communications, the term "LGBT" is preferred by gay men over the term "GLBT." 
  • Facebook ads appear to have overtaken traditional banner ads among most gay and lesbian age groups.

This is the 6th straight year CMI has produced the LGBT Community Survey.