Major brands such as Target, Bud Light and Disney are reeling from failed experiments in blending social activism with marketing. The consumer backlash against commerce with political undertones would make Adam Smith proud, says Lee Cohen in the Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt:
Recent consumer backlashes against retailers injecting social activism into their product marketing has given credence to the notion of ‘go woke, go broke’. The phrase provides hope that we are reaching an inflection point where ordinary Americans have had enough of corporate virtue signalling. In times when businesses feel compelled to reflect political messaging in their commercial campaigns, corporate social justice has become the rage.
Most of us simply want to make purchases without being lectured about issues having nothing to do with the transaction at hand. Fortunately, just as silent majorities make known their will at the ballot box, consumers still have power to buy elsewhere.
Recently-released reports reveal that the second quarter of this year marked a significant downturn for U.S. retail titan Target, as the company experienced a 5% drop in sales, its first decline in six years. …
The company’s response was to remove certain products from its extensive Pride collection, supposedly due to concerns about staff safety through confrontations between customers and employees and damage to displays. Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, acknowledged a clear connection between the controversy and the sales decline, conceding that, “…we’re applying what we’ve learned to ensure we’re staying close to our guests and their expectations of Target”.
The incident is hardly isolated. Bud Light, one of America’s leading beer brands, faced a similar decline in sales after an eye-roll-worthy social media campaign. Its collaboration with transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney first sparked the backlash, contributing to a substantial drop in revenues for parent company Anheuser-Busch.