Conservative Criticisms of LGBTQ+ Support Have Limited Effects on Brands – The Average Joe

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    Conservative Criticisms of LGBTQ+ Support Have Limited Effects on Brands

    Noah Weidner

    June 4, 2024

    June is here, signaling long days, hot temperatures, and political controversy. With celebrations like Pride Month and Juneteenth, this month holds special significance in the US culture war. While some celebrate, others express differing opinions, sparking discussions in the business world.

    Revisiting the culture war: Last year, American corporations faced backlash for supporting diverse groups, particularly the LGBTQ+ community. Companies like Target ($TGT), Disney ($DIS), and AB Inbev’s Budweiser ($BUD) faced boycotts and political criticism for their inclusive marketing efforts. The social pressure was intense — and the impacts were immediate.

    • Last year, Target recorded its first profit decline in six years, AB InBev reportedly lost out on over $1B in sales, and Disney engaged in a political battle with Florida’s right-wing government.
    • In response, companies adjusted their strategies — Target reduced its LGBTQ+ merchandise offerings, and the director of inclusion consultancy at Trans& reported a downturn in “funding and support of LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives.”

    The True Impact of Protests

    Despite different responses, companies often emerge victorious in the culture war. Since last June, stocks of $TGT, $BUD, and $DIS have risen by 15%, 14%, and 13%, respectively — with minimal impact on sales.

    • Other brands like Southwest ($LUV), North Face ($VFC), and Nike ($NKE) have also seen little impact.
    • However, this year’s Pride Month has seen a reduction in diverse advertising, affecting the earnings of queer influencers, according to ModernRetail.

    At odds with the future: According to AP, companies like Starbucks ($SBUX) and General Motors ($GM) will continue supporting Pride-related events this year — even as others appear to be pulling back. Budweiser’s attempt to cater to diverse audiences with its advertising backfired, offering a lesson for others: attempting to please everyone can ultimately lead to alienating everyone instead.

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