Target, one of the biggest retailers in the USA, announced earlier this week that its signs are going gender neutral.
It is making the move after feedback from customers who said that gendered signs – like ‘Boys’ or ‘Girls’ – aren’t always necessary.
Before you ask – that doesn’t mean that all the children’s toys, for example, will be wooden bricks, but that the signage won’t point to toys as being specifically for boys or girls.
So science and building sets will sit alongside dolls and sparkly things without determining what gender they are aimed at. The same goes for other products, like children’s bedding.
Why the change?
Target explained that it uses signs and displays to help guests get through the store efficiently.
“Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender,” it said.
In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes—for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well—signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster.
But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.
We heard you, and we agree.
It is now identifying areas where it can phase out gender-based signage “to help strike a better balance”. This means that in the kids’ bedding and toy aisles, there will no longer be references to gender.
You won’t see pink, blue, yellow or green paper being used on the back of the shelves either in this section either.
This news has been welcomed by activists who have been campaigning for an end to ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys.
The news went down well in some quarters, and terribly in others. A look at Target’s Facebook page gives an overview of exactly how passionate people feel about the topic.
There are those who oppose it:
And those who are all for it:
The change didn’t just attract a range of comments – it also encouraged one man to pose as a Target employee and reply to some of the negative feedback.
Mike Melgaard, who called himself ‘Ask ForHelp’ and used the Target ‘bullseye’ image as his Facebook photo, told AdWeek that he created the fake Facebook account to post sarcastic comments.
About 16 hours after he began, his account was shut down – but not without many people noticing.
He said he sides with Target, but his comments were “more about the laughs”.