Thursday, April 2, 2015

Even Walmart Knows that Homophobia is Bad for Business

Almost everybody is familiar with the demographic marketing phrase: "the key 18 to 54 age group." As if every human being over or under that age range is somehow less valuable. Well, they are actually--at least to corporate America. The first half of that age group is supposedly when young adults form the brand loyalties and shopping habits that they will retain for a lifetime, while the latter half are in their prime earning (read: consumption) years. This is why marketing for most products other than dietary fiber supplements, incontinence garments and mobility scooters are slick, flashy and heavy on the "coolness" factor. Given a choice between possibly offending older consumers versus cementing brand loyalty of the 18 to 54'ers, most companies figure that while granny may indignantly chuck a slipper at the screen, she's unlikely to change her 50-year love of a particular breakfast cereal brand as a result.

All of this is a long winded way of explaining why Walmart shocked a lot of people when it came out strongly against the Arkansas religious "freedom" measure that was very similar to Indiana's. It was one thing for Apple to condemn the Indiana law--Apple presumably has lots of gay and lesbian customers and the bigoted old white fuckers who support these shitty discriminatory laws aren't likely to ever understand how a smartphone works, let alone ever buy one. But the stereotype is that Walmart customers are exactly the kind of Fox News watching, assault rifle totin,' Jesus lovin' morons who would applaud a law like this. After all, to cite another common but probably not completely inaccurate stereotype, your average gay couple's tastes in home furnishings do not likely run to the kind of clapboard crap on display at Sam Walton's megastore hellholes--nor would they ever want to be caught dead wearing the sweatshop assembled, ill-fitting polyester dress shirts hanging on the clothing racks.

Walmart probably could have stayed quiet regarding the proposed Arkansas law. After all, no one was ASKING the company for its opinion. The fact that it chose to say something represents an obvious awareness that younger Americans, even those less financially well off, on average tend to be more socially tolerant than older ones. Young adults today are far more likely to have friends who are openly gay than their older cohorts. Walmart just found a free way to get the best advertising it could have in the form of news stories that will make little Brandi and Justin feel better about shopping there so they will hopefully develop a lifelong habit. After all, what are Bessie and Elmer going to do, stuck as they are on a fixed income and living in a trailer with no savings account, suddenly boycott Wally World in favor of Nieman Marcus?

So let's all get our warm and fuzzys about this shining example of good corporate citizenship without getting all wrapped up in the truth of the matter, which is that if they didn't think it would help improve their bottom line the greedy fuckers who own and run Walmart wouldn't have said jack shit. And let's not ponder the day when predatory megacorporations like America's biggest retailer have finally destroyed the livelihood of average Americans to the point where even most gay and lesbian couples have no choice but to shop there whether they like it or not.

Bonus: "Indiana wants me--but I can't go back there"


  1. Fantastic comment Bill! One thing you needn't worry about is your conclusion that predatory mega-corporations will destroy livelihoods. No, worry that they've always been in the process of destroying EVERYTHING (the entire global economy and economics, our habitat and that of an awful lot of other species of plants, animals, insects, birds, marine life, and much more) and well on the way to the end result of the 6th Great Extinction. These corporations (included in the machinery of capitalism) and the fact that we've overrun the planet (and are still reproducing like cancer) with humans that constantly spew pollution of all kinds into their own fishbowl - it's a complete joke that we've named ourselves the "wise" apes.

    Back to the topic at hand, i said likewise to my wife when she mentioned it, but used the Chic-fil-a brouhaha and the Hobby Lobby marketing fiasco of associating with ANY kind of discrimination that it's tantamount to a death sentence for your business, and that i'm sure the boycott of any business that actually heeds these pseudo-religious governor clown's legalized of bigotry would result in a huge push-back at them, their states, and after it affects business enough, their economies, tax revenues, etc. The governors of these states are basically idiots - ignorant of science, business, and basic facts like "shit has consequences" - that have yet again risen to the top of the local power structure to fuck everything up for everyone by doing their best.

    It's too bad "ya cain't fix stupid" because it would have been nice to have lived in a world that somehow got it right and learned from past mistakes all along, but this is how it is: psychopaths tend to rise to the top of systemic positions of power. It's too late now, so don't worry about anything - it all ends badly no matter what.

    Hey, as my old Italian neighbor used to say "Hoppy Yeast!" to you and all your readers.


  2. Good one Bill, dead one blog post. By the way I love that song, one of my guilty favorites. Thanks Bill for both.