The real lesson of Bud Light, Target controversies

June 9, 2023

By Tim Worstall

The real lesson of this Bud Light and Target swimsuit issue is the joy of free-market capitalism. Yes, to some, not supporting trans issues is a betrayal of human rights; to others, the idea of tuck tailoring on children’s bathing suits is the outrage. The joy, though, is that we’ve already got the system of working this out – that free market capitalism.

Bud Light’s sales are now down 22.8% after its Dylan Mulvaney campaign. That’s not a one-week issue; that’s some two months after the issue first arose. Worse for Anheuser-Busch, the other brands the company owns are also seeing smaller sales drops. Modelo Especial has taken the top-selling beer slot, and Coors Light has been reported as up 17% in sales.

It’s worth emphasizing that in the beer market, these are seismic changes – and not just a coffee cup rattling on the countertop either. These are full-blown San Andreas Fault The Big One style changes. 

Target’s CEO has found out that the trans toddler swimsuit model might be something that he thinks must be done, but few others do. And the damage is not to the displays of such oddities; it’s to the cash received by the store chain.

Now we have our views about both actions, but that’s not our point here. Rather, we want to point out that it’s you that have the power. Capitalists exist to try to make a profit. Free markets mean you’ve options about who to make rich through your purchases. So, capitalists must please you in order to be able to make a profit.

Whatever else we say about these two instances, it’s obvious that the capitalists made decisions that annoyed (enraged perhaps) significant portions of the population. This meant they changed their purchasing decisions, and this made the capitalists sad as they lost their hope for profits. The Bud Light brand manager who made the decision is already long gone; Target is changing its clothing displays. There will be considerable hesitation among other large companies to repeat the error.

Sure, there will be niche brands that cater directly to the minority; that’s also one of the joys of this system. But the big mass market brands have to cater to the big mass market. Which means not enraging a considerable portion of the population. So, having seen the evidence, they’ll not be doing that.

The real reason behind this is that every spend of $ is a vote. It’s a vote in favor of one supplier against another. So, when we spend our dollars, we should treat it as a vote. If we don’t like what the supplier is doing, then don’t buy that brand. If we do, then do. It’s a form of democracy; the winners are those with the most votes. But instead of getting to have that vote once every four (or two) years, we get to do this every time we go to the store. And as with that other type of democracy, vote wisely – because you’re the person with the power here. 

 Capitalism provides the greed for our dollars and markets the choice for us over who to pleasure with those dollars. Free market capitalism, therefore, means that we are in control. For once, we’ve got the capitalists by their wallets. We control them.

Trans issues are merely an example of this, as is that bitter weeping into their beer over at Bud Light.

Spend wisely.


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