Target’s top executive dismissed the social media uproar over the retailer’s new line of LGBTQ-friendly kids clothing, saying that marketing the products are good for business and “the right thing for society.”
Outraged shoppers posted videos and images on social media showing bathing suits that offer “extra crotch coverage” as well as rainbow-colored onesies for infants and children.
Other offerings that raised conservative hackles include T-shirts that say “Pride Adult Drag Queen ‘Katya,’” “Trans people will always exist!” and “Girls Gays Theys.”
On Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast last week, Target CEO Brian Cornell was asked about the backlash to “woke” capitalism, which has also engulfed iconic beer brand Bud Light as well as entertainment giant Disney.
“I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand,” Cornell said.
The executive, whose company employs more than 450,000 workers in more than 1,900 locations nationwide, said that the company’s strategy is aimed to cater to a diversifying customer base.
The things we’ve done from a DE&I [diversity, equity, and inclusion] standpoint, it’s adding value,” Cornell said.
“It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
A spokesperson for the company told the Associated Press that the “tuck-friendly” swimsuits are only offered in adult sizes and that the kids’ collection does not feature the label.
“When we think about purpose at Target, it’s really about helping all the families, and that ‘all’ word is really important,” Cornell said.
“Most of America shops at Target, so we want to do the right thing to support families across the country.”
Target’s line of trans options, promoted on its website ahead of next month’s Pride Month, sparked even more fury because it targets kids.
Cornell added: “I know that focus on diversity and inclusion and equity has fueled much of our growth over the last nine years.”
While Target appears to be sticking to its guns, Bud Light and parent company Anheuser-Busch are trying to make amends with disaffected consumers who were upset by the marketing partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
An Anheuser-Busch wholesale beer distributor based in Alabama paid for a radio ad in which he slammed the beer conglomerate.
The brand is offering generous rebates for Memorial Day that in some cases amount to free beer.
Steep drops in sales of Bud Light continued to worsen for the sixth consecutive week, plunging by nearly 25% since the ill-fated promotion with Mulvaney, the latest industry data shows.