What Happened: Last week, Target announced that it would be dropping gender-based labeling in its stores on products like toys and décor. For example, instead of “boys” and “girls” labels in the bedding and toy aisles, these sections of the store will now be marked with the universal term “kids.” Some have declared this a bold move by the Minneapolis-based retail chain, while others have written the move off as simply keeping up with the times. What the move actually symbolizes from a brand perspective, however, is Target’s commitment and loyalty to its customers. A statement issued by Target says, “Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender.” The statement goes on to say, “We heard you, and we agree.”
What This Means for Brands: Sometimes brands are so concerned with customers listening to and valuing their messages, they can forget the importance of the flipside of that coin. In June, Ohio mom Abi Bechtel tweeted a photo of a Target sign that separated building sets by “boys” and “girls” with a caption that said, “Don’t do this, @Target.” Her photo was retweeted more than 2,000 times. With their latest announcement, Target is demonstrating that they heard Bechtel and everyone else who had voiced displeasure at the gender-based labeling in stores. According to social analytics firm Brandwatch, Target has accumulated nearly 20,000 mentions on the Internet since August 4, with nearly 90% of these mentions happening since the announcement was released. Brandwatch also found that the conversation has been overwhelmingly pro-Target, with twice as many positive mentions as negative. The important takeaway from Target’s announcement is that brands should never underestimate the power of simply saying, “We heard you, and we agree.” The customer may not always be right, but recognizing and valuing their opinions can go a long way in building credibility, trust and enthusiasm for your brand.