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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Target Shifts Pride Month Display Strategy Following Previous Year’s Criticism

Following criticism last year for its Pride Month displays, Target is shifting its approach for this year’s celebration of LGBTQ Americans in June.

In an email statement on Friday, the retail giant announced that its Pride-themed merchandise will be available in “select stores and on Target.com.” This marks a departure from previous years when such products were prominently featured and widely accessible in most Target stores.

Traditionally, Target has showcased its Pride apparel and merchandise prominently, often near store entrances. However, last year saw the retailer facing backlash and calls for boycotts from conservative commentators and customers. The displays, which included clothing and books addressing transgender issues and gender fluidity, elicited outrage, with some customers reportedly shouting at workers and discarding Pride-themed items on the floor. Consequently, Target relocated the displays from the front of some stores to less conspicuous areas.

Target emphasized that this year’s Pride collection has been curated based on guest insights and consumer research. This shift to a more subdued approach with its Pride-themed goods poses the risk of alienating LGBTQ customers and their allies. For years, companies have used Pride Month as an opportunity to demonstrate support for the LGBTQ community and to capitalize on its increasing financial, political, and social influence.

While marketing campaigns around Pride Month have faced opposition in the past, last year’s backlash was particularly intense due to the political climate. Notably, sales of Bud Light, a popular beer from Anheuser-Busch InBev, plummeted after a transgender influencer’s Instagram video as part of a Bud Light contest promotion stirred controversy.

Nevertheless, LGBTQ advocates are optimistic that many companies and brands will continue to embrace Pride Month in June. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of GLAAD, an organization that collaborates with companies on Pride Month communications and plans, highlighted that “hundreds of brands celebrated Pride loudly and proudly” last year. She expressed confidence that 2024 will see another robust demonstration of support from corporations.

While Target’s decision to adopt a more reserved approach to its Pride Month displays reflects its efforts to navigate a contentious socio-political landscape, it underscores the delicate balance that companies must strike between showing solidarity with marginalized communities and mitigating potential backlash from certain segments of society. As Pride Month approaches, the extent to which other companies follow suit or take a bolder stance remains to be seen.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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