- Major corporations, including Anheuser-Busch, Target, Kohl's, and North Face, face backlash and calls for boycotts due to their support for the LGBTQ community during Pride month.
- Negative media attention resulting from these boycotts poses threats to company reputations, prompting concessions, as per the research of Professor Brayden King.
- Despite initial impacts on sales and stocks, companies are expected to maintain their stance on social issues, believing such positions foster deeper customer relationships.
The inception of Pride month has been marked by numerous companies demonstrating support for the LGBTQ community. These actions, however, have led to increasing scrutiny and backlash. High-profile corporations like Anheuser-Busch, Target, Kohl’s, and VF Corp.’s North Face brand have come under fire for their vocal support and inclusive initiatives. Critics, predominantly from the right, are terming these businesses as “woke capitalists” and are promoting boycotts of their products.
Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light and North Face found themselves in the spotlight due to their collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney and the use of drag queen Pattie Gonia in their ads, respectively. Similarly, Kohl's and Target have faced criticism for their Pride-themed merchandise. As the pushback continues, it remains uncertain how it will impact these companies' sales. What's apparent though is the strain on their stocks and the subsequent rating downgrades by market analysts.
Boycotts typically gain traction due to the potential harm they pose to a company's reputation, according to Brayden King, a professor of management and organizations, who has researched the impact of boycotts on stock prices. King's research indicates that negative media attention often leads companies to yield to boycotters' demands. He found that approximately 25% of 177 companies targeted in boycotts from 1990 to 2005 made concessions to protestors.
Anheuser-Busch's situation stands out as it has directly affected sales and stock price. In just seven weeks, the stock has dropped by over 18%. A series of robust responses on social media and subsequent market share gains by Miller Lite and Coors Light suggest enduring consumer backlash against Bud Light.
The corporations supporting the Pride month have become increasingly cautious due to the unfolding scenario. Target, for instance, has relocated or removed Pride month apparel from some stores amid concerns for employee safety. However, this step has its own risks. If handled incorrectly, corporations could alienate both critics and supporters. Regardless of the initial repercussions, companies are likely to continue aligning their brands with social issues. Such strategies often yield deeper connections with customers and enhance the brands' gravitational pull.
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