retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that Target has committed to spending more than $2 billion between now and 2025 to "hire more Black-owned companies, launch a program to identify and support promising minority entrepreneurs and add products from more than 500 Black-owned brands to its shelves or website."

According to the story, Target "will more actively seek out advertising firms, suppliers, construction companies and other kinds of businesses that are Black-owned. It said it will create a program called Forward Founders for early-stage start-ups led by Black entrepreneurs to help them develop, test and scale products to sell at mass retailers like Target. It will be modeled off of Target Accelerators, a program for start-ups that the retailer uses to foster up-and-coming brands and ultimately, to sell fresh and exclusive products that attract customers and help it differentiate from competitors."

“We have a rich history of working with diverse businesses, but there’s more we can do to spark change across the retail industry, support the Black community and ensure Black guests feel welcomed and represented when they shop at Target,” said chief growth officer Christina Hennington in a prepared statement.

The context, according to CNBC:

"The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and protests across the country have ratcheted up pressure on corporate leaders to advance racial equity and do more than simply cut a check - or risk losing business. The uneven death toll of the coronavirus pandemic and financial toll of the recession also spotlighted the country’s sharp racial disparities with health care and economic opportunity.

"Floyd was killed in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis, now the site of the murder trial for the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. One Target store, located near the site of Floyd’s death, had to be completely rebuilt and some of its other stores were damaged during rioting."

KC's View:

One of the other points made by CNBC in the piece is that consumers more than ever before are paying attention to what they perceive as the moral and ethical values talked about - and acted upon - by the companies with which they do business.  This especially applies to Generation Z, " the group of teens and early 20-somethings who are aging into shopping and establishing relationships with brands," which, CNBC writes, cares "more about social justice compared with former generations."

Sometimes, when companies get involved in what they see as social issues, it puts them in the political crosshairs … which can be a perilous place for any company to be.  But, sometimes they don't see circumstances as giving them much of a choice.