Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Is Target's Gender-Neutral Labeling Just a PR Stunt?

By now you've probably already heard (as it's been all over the news) that Target is having a gender-neutral makeover. The Minneapolis-based retailer said children's bedding and toy aisles will now be marked with the universal term “kids” instead of “boys” and “girls.” Target also said it would remove the pink, blue, yellow and green paper on the back of its toy shelves, which also referred to gender.

The change was spurred by an Ohio mom's tweet which went viral two months ago when she called out Target in a photo for separating "building sets" and "girls' building sets." Now, the retailer is fixing the problem gender-neutral signage for all toys, bedding, home decor, and entertainment.

"We never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented," Minneapolis-based Target said in a news release last week. "Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not."

Though the company's announcement makes no mention of the tweeted photo that gained so much attention (shown here) one line shows that they are paying attention to the heightened awareness of gender issues: "We know that shopping preferences and needs change," it said. In other words, people care about gender more than ever, and so do we. 

Which has led to some outlets, like Twin Cities.com, to ponder whether this is all just a PR stunt on Target's part. Target must be on the lookout for customers' reactions, with some so far being major eye rolls at this show of political correctness. "Why don't you paint your store white so you offend nobody at all," one Facebook commenter wrote. And another wrote "This is a pr stunt and a bad one. All they want is to save money on decorating the section."


Jennie said...

My guess is that this is primarily a PR stunt, as are most things that companies do and have press releases about. But PR stunt or not, this is a great model that I am happy to see Target implementing. My hope is that that other major companies will soon follow.

Critifur said...

While I am not wholly for the PC point of view, I think people over all try too hard to be offended, I think making toys gender neutral is a great thing. I totally hid playing with Barbie, even though I loved Star Wars toys too, I was made to feel like my interests across the isle were wrong, and that has to do with society over all. I think anything that lessens a stigma against gender non-conformity can only be a good thing.

Target Addict said...

Critifur: I agree with you, but my issue with Target is that they aren't the first retailer to do this. From what I've read, Walmart and ToysR Us already made this move, yet they didn't try to get good PR out of it. Anyway, read my blog today about the fake Target page someone put up on FB to wind up the folks that are offended by the gender-neutral labeling. The responses this guy crafted to the angry FB posts are hilarious!

Heather said...

I'm glad they're doing it. I'm a teacher and overhear my students reinforcing gender stereotypes all the time - "you can't like Star Wars, you're a girl" and the like - if one of my girls wants Star Wars bedding, she should be able to have it without feeling like she's doing something wrong. The whole thing spun out of control because people didn't bother to read the press release and thought clothing was all going to be in one section, too (although for kids, would that be such a problem? Some of those Where the Wild Things are pieces would be adorable on a little girl!)