I know some people saw this in the news recently and cringed while others praised their forward thinking. Everyone has been focused on what this means from a societal view, and how this will impact the delicate psyche of children, but let’s be honest for a moment. This gamble should end up making more money, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we really care about?
The retail business is tricky. You have to be thinking one step ahead because shopping just isn’t like it was 25 years ago. The first and most obvious reason this is a success for Target is they are in the news. It’s a reminder to people that yes, Target sells clothes. It also reinforces their brand identity that thrives on social equality. So right there, we already have some good benefits from their decision to eliminate gender specific children’s clothing.
Do you remember clothing shopping for school as a kid? When you were very small you probably grabbed shirts with prints that looked happy or had characters you recognized on them. Most fashion decisions were made for you by a parent or older sibling. At some age though, you probably started to wonder, “does this make me look ‘cool.'”
As I got older not only did my desire to experiment with fashion change, but so did my perception of my family’s economic status. My mother urged me to buy from the Jr’s section as a cost savings measure.
Getting back to Target now, a gender neutral clothing section will likely push children out of the children’s clothing section earlier. Either through puberty or desire to adopt a fashion trend, more children will end up shopping in the more expensive adult clothing section.
Of course, there is one final benefit to Target from this decision. They should be able to reduce the amount of bad press from their printed shirts. I think the most recent was a line of shirts for females with print like, “Trophy” on them. You can’t claim gender bias if all the clothes are in a gender neutral section!
Anyway, regardless of how you feel about this topic socially, it does seem to be a good business decision for this retailer.