Retail giant Target finds itself in a tumultuous situation as it battles consumer criticism over a new line of merchandise. The company’s latest offering includes LGBTQ-themed products and “tuck-friendly” swimwear. As the retail landscape increasingly gives way to the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) mindset, critics argue that corporations like Target prioritize the demands of a few over the preferences of the many who support them.
Target’s Pride collection, available in-store and online, offers more than 2,300 products, covering everything from clothing to home furnishings. The variety extends to items like “queer all year” calendars and Pride Milkbone dog treats. The push for inclusivity is also visible in their children’s section, with books for ages 4 to 8 like “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish,” “Bye Bye, Binary,” and “Are You a Girl or Are You a Boy?” The retail giant even caters to the tiniest consumers with LGBTQ onesies for babies.
'SHOPPING ELSEWHERE': Consumers creeped out by Target's 'tuck-friendly' women's swimwear https://t.co/49iHIXF5EC
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 20, 2023
However, this merchandise line has come under fire from consumers. Among the criticisms, the tuck-friendly bathing suits – designed to provide “extra crotch coverage” – have been particularly controversial. Comedian Chrissie Mayr highlighted her disapproval when she told Fox Digital: “The only thing I’ll be tucking is my money back into my wallet and shopping elsewhere. What an obnoxious virtue signal from Target.”
Such sentiments aren’t isolated. Allie Beth Stuckey, host of BlazeTV’s “Relatable,” started boycotting Target last year due to its advocacy of transgender products. She criticized the retail chain’s push for an LGBTQ agenda, a sentiment echoed by many conservative consumers who have called for a boycott of the store.
Oli London, author of “Gender Madness,” points out the potential financial consequences. “Target is just the latest brand that has gone woke and made an ill-fated decision to alienate its customer base by pushing gender ideology into the faces of consumers,” he said. In a week when Target’s CEO announced expected losses of $500 million, the timing of this controversy raised eyebrows.
Critics argue that Target, in its quest to score high on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), has misplaced its focus. They contend that the retailer has lost sight of its primary goal – serving its customer base, which predominantly does not identify as trans. London further notes that Target’s actions could be perceived as offensive to women, with some feeling openly mocked by the company’s drive to achieve a perfect CEI score.
The backlash against Target isn’t unique. Corporations like Bud Light and Adidas have recently experienced similar reactions from consumers to their progressive marketing strategies.
As companies like Target continue to signal their virtues through inclusive product lines, they walk a tightrope. Balancing the drive for inclusivity with respect for the preferences of most consumers is proving to be a complex challenge.
While academics and the corporate media laud the push for equality and inclusivity, corporations are well-advised to remember the fundamental tenets of their business: understanding and serving their customer base. In light of the ongoing backlash, how Target navigates these turbulent waters remains to be seen.