Why Gays’ Anger Toward Target, Best Buy Should Worry Shareholders

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Target Corp.  (NYSE: TGT) and Best Buy Co (NYSE: BBY)  tried to suck up to State Rep. Ron Emmer,  a conservative Republican who has a good chance of becoming the next governor of their home state of Minnesota, and it backfired badly.  Now, their retailers are scrambling to make amends to gay consumers, who by one estimate have $485 billion in spending power.

Whether you think homosexuality is a sin is irrelevant.  This is about business.   With the economy in a fragile state,  the decision by Target and Best Buy donated a combined $250,000  to MN Forward, an organization backing Emmer who opposes gay marriage, is stupid.   Gays are not just a good market, they are a great one.  Here are some demographics about the market which would make any retailer drool courtesy of MYGAYWEB.com:

  • Over twice as likely as national index to be professionals or managers
  • Average household income over $85.4K
  • Are 3.4 times more likely to have household income over $250K
  • 65 percent identify themselves as having to have the “latest”
  • 68 percent upgrade to a product’s latest model
  • 77 percent “believe in indulging in themselves”
  • 57 percent “prefer to buy top of the line”

Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s Chief Executive Officer,  told employees that his company’s “unwavering” backing of  lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people,and that its supported MN Forward because of its other pro-business policies.

Little wonder that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a civil rights group representing  the LGBT community, is demanding that the companies make an equal donation to their cause.

“Every day that goes by, fair-minded consumers are wondering when Target and Best Buy plan to recognize that equality is good business,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

Race, gender and sexual orientation divide Americans.  Money unites us.  One person’s money is as green as someone else’s.  In other words, if Target and Best Buy don’t make LGBT customers feel welcome, they will gladly spend their money elsewhere.

Jon Berr