Target Limits Pride Month Collection to Certain Stores Following 2023 Backlash

By: Georgia | Published: May 10, 2024

Starting this June, Target is scaling back the in-store availability of its Pride Month merchandise in response to last year’s backlash over certain items. 

The retailer has decided to offer these products in select stores, focusing on locations where historical sales data predicts success.

Full Range Still Online

Though you might see fewer Pride items on local Target shelves, the complete collection remains readily available online

Advertisement
A close-up view of a red shopping basket filled with various Pride merchandise, including a flag, a 'Gender Euphoria' scented candle, and colorful clothing items

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Target aims to strike a balance, continuing to serve a diverse audience while adapting to the varied sentiments across different communities.

Advertisement

Selective Store Strategy

Gone are the days when Target’s Pride merchandise was a staple across all its 2,000 stores. 

Advertisement
Aerial shot of a large Target store at dusk, showing the expansive parking lot surrounding the building with the Target logo prominently displayed on the roof

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This year, in a move sparked by previous controversy, the company is carefully choosing which stores will carry the line, aiming to avoid the pitfalls of past years.

Swimsuit Controversy

Last year’s uproar was largely fueled by a swimsuit line designed for adults, described as “tuck-friendly” and offering “extra coverage.” 

Advertisement
Inside a Target store, a colorful swimwear display under a large turquoise umbrella featuring mannequins dressed in various bikinis and swimsuits

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Misunderstandings arose when some shoppers assumed these features were meant for children, a misconception Target was quick to clarify.

Storefront Standoffs

The backlash wasn’t just online; it reached the aisles and checkout lines of Target stores, where heated confrontations disrupted the shopping experience. 

Advertisement
Front view of a Target store entrance, featuring glass doors and the distinctive red and white Target logo above the entrance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This led Target to move Pride displays out of prominent viewing spots in some stores, particularly in the South.

Delicate Balancing Act

Target finds itself navigating a tightrope of cultural and social issues, learning from past missteps.

Interior of a Target store showing a display of Pride-themed clothing, including rainbow dresses, shirts, and accessories arranged on racks and mannequins

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The challenge is to market sensitively in an era where public opinion is deeply divided.

Advertisement

Learning from Others

Target isn’t alone in facing backlash for promoting inclusivity. Bud Light, for instance, saw its sales tank after partnering with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. 

Neon sign of Bud Light featuring a glowing blue and white logo mounted on a wall, with a silhouette of a football helmet above the brand name

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These incidents underline the risky business of brand positioning in today’s polarized marketplace.

Advertisement

Informed Decisions

This year, Target is leaning heavily on detailed consumer research and insights to decide where its Pride products will appear in-store. 

Display of various Pride-themed clothing at a Target store, including striped and checkered patterned shirts, a black overalls dress with rainbow heart patches, and a black sweatshirt with rainbow balloon graphics

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This data-driven approach is designed to ensure that the merchandise meets the expectations and acceptance of the local demographic.

Advertisement

Reaffirming Support

Despite cutting back on some fronts, Target remains staunch in its support for the LGBTQIA+ community, pledging continuous backing during Pride Month and beyond. 

Nighttime view of a Target store in an urban setting with bright red and white illuminated signage and empty streets

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This commitment is part of Target’s broader initiative to foster an inclusive atmosphere for all its customers and team members.

Advertisement

Broadening the Celebration

Target is expanding this year’s Pride collection to include not just apparel but also home goods and food and beverage items, starting at just $3. 

Group of people wearing red shirts with rainbow logos participating in a Pride parade, some with rainbow accessories like boas and flags

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This diversification caters to a wider array of tastes and preferences, celebrating diversity in every corner of life.

Advertisement

Commitment Beyond June

Target’s support for the LGBTQIA+ community is an ongoing endeavor that stretches past the colorful celebration of Pride Month. 

Close-up of a black baseball cap with a colorful tag saying "A LGBTQIA+ Target Artist Design for our Pride Collection" and a price tag of $20

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The company is keen on integrating this support into its daily operations, making inclusivity a cornerstone of its corporate ethos.

Advertisement

Looking Forward

As Target adjusts its approach to Pride Month merchandise, it seeks to maintain a balance between celebrating diversity and navigating the sensitivities of its diverse customer base. 

Daytime exterior of a Target store with red and white facade, pedestrians walking by, and a street corner in the foreground

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The company aims to deliver both respectful engagement and comprehensive market presence.

Advertisement