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Pride Month Sees New Products, Some Pivoting

Shoppers check out new and favorite brands that support communities, while some retailers refocus promotions
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
The Collage Group
(Source: The Collage Group, 2024)

For a segment of retailers and shoppers, Pride Month is a bit different this June. Some stores and brands have cut back on large-scale promotions to focus on long-term initiatives – and perhaps avoid short-term controversies – while others are focusing on unique products from artists seeking to make products more inclusive.

Target Corp. got some headlines in May when it shared that it is not merchandising its Pride Month collection at all locations. In 2023, the retailer’s collection stirred up positive reactions as well as vocal calls for boycotts. This time around, the Minnesota-based retailer announced that is “offering collection of products including adult apparel and home and food and beverage items, curated based on consumer feedback” online and in select stores based on historical sales performance. 

While it may be scaling back on its Pride-themed merchandise in every store, Target announced ways it is supporting the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the year, including sourcing from LGBTQIA+-owned brands, supporting groups like Family Equality and the Human Rights Campaign and hosting internal events for team members through its Pride+ Business Council.

One retailer supplier, Greg Kerr, founder and owner of Alchemy Merchandise in Phoenix, Ariz., told Progressive Grocer that Target’s high profile decision mirrors that of other companies who cheer Pride Month in a range of ways but are increasingly focusing on ongoing programs and approaches. “It’s great that companies want to do Pride initiatives and celebrate Pride Month, and people change their logos for one month of the year, but the more important thing is, do they have 365-day Pride initiatives in play that support workers and customers?” asked Kerr, whose company sells pins, keychains, apparel, stationery, home goods and other items made by a range of artisans.

Demonstrating allyship for consumers and employees is a crucial goal, agreed experts from Kantar on a recent webinar. “Pride is something that is delved into, looked at and celebrated every single day – not just in June,” declared Caroline Frankum, global CEO and an executive sponsor of the PRIDE employee resource group at the research firm Kantar.

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In that webinar, Kantar shared results of a survey showing opportunities and gaps in supporting inclusiveness across communities. According to its research, less than a third (32%) of consumers think that brands in their respective countries do a good job of representing LGBTQIA+ groups in their advertising and marketing.

On that note, some brands are viewed more positively than others. A new study from the Collage Group identified top brands for LGBTQIA+ consumers, who look for companies that put their brand equity and culture cache to work empowering community members. The leading five brands in this area include Band-Aid, YouTube, Google, KitKat and Visa.

Messaging, of course, is key to trust and reception. According to the Collage Group, 63% of this cohort said they would view LGBTQIA+ -focused advertising as insincere if it only occurred during Pride Month. Fifty-seven percent said that such advertisements would be perceived as insincere if they fed into stereotypes.

Kerr likewise underlined sincerity. “Does the company care or do they want to look like they do? Donations are great, but there has to be actual support, if people want to be seen as more authentic,” he said, citing efforts like inclusive training for employees and product offerings from a diverse group of suppliers.

[RELATED: The Top New Products – And The Trends Behind Them]

That roster of suppliers continues to expand. The hydration brand waterdrop, for example, rolled out vibrant new products that celebrate diversity, including a new Pride bottle, Celebration Box of dissolvable sugar-free cubes and a reusable rainbow shopping bag.

Established brands also continue to launch limited-time collections. The Skittles brand, for its part, released its 2024 Pride pack, designed with a female and minority-owned production company. Skittles also teamed up with the community-building platform Meetup to create a Skittles LGBTQ+ Directory, listing LGBTQ+ groups, events, and resources to help people find their community. 

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