Target is Making a Big Mistake

CNN reports that retail giant Target is “limiting the number of stores that will sell LGBTQ-themed merchandise for Pride Month in June following a boycott from right-wing activists last year that took a toll on the brand’s bottom line.”

I welcome your thoughts, but I have a few questions to kick off discussion:

1. Is it really clear that last year’s sales dip was due to the right-wing boycott? Could it have been because people were turned off by how Target pulled merchandise? Or both?

2. Does the cause of the sales dip really matter? Is giving in to bigotry the right thing even if it might save some money in the short run? What action has the most impact on long-term brand health?

3. Target’s stated values are…
– Inclusivity
– Connection (Trust)
– Drive (Results)

Somewhat oddly, the LAST of these is framed as “we do what is right for Target, our team, and guests.”

Doesn’t avoiding the sales of legal, safe, useful merchandise, based on complaints from anti-LGBTQ+ activists, undermine these values?

4. In the CNN piece, Target says it wants to “create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members.”
Will employees believe that? How about LGBTQ consumers or allies (especially in the regions they’re pulling the merchandise)?

5. What does this decision indicate about other merchandise choices? If racists want to remove displays or products for Black History Month, or people want some books banned, will Target give in?

Last year, Target got bomb threats and people destroyed merchandise. That’s bad, but isn’t the right solution to call the FBI and police? Why should that violence determine what you sell?

I feel for Target execs, honestly. It’s not easy. But in the end, this isn’t about balancing some different, equally valid perceptions on a complicated issue. It’s about the courage to protect human rights and the dignity of the LGBTQIA+ community.

I think that this isn’t a good look for Target. What are your thoughts?

(See interesting discussion on this post on LinkedIn here, including many who point out that Target has been an advocate for LGBTQ rights and equality)