Over the last few days Australian website Mamamia ran two articles by Nath Valvo and Adam Richards about the door policy at Melbourne gay nightclub, The Peel where they have conditions of entry for anyone entering, that includes ‘no hetrosexual behaviour, such as kissing members of the opposite sex’ – On face value this looks [and is] text book discrimination and I am sure that if the shoe was on the other foot and I was given a set of rules such as these to follow if I was down at my local pub, I would be offended and angry. The Peel however IS a business, a successful business – so is this discrimination or just very clever marketing?
After taking some time to digest, what for me was on the surface pretty much reverse homophobia, I have actually come to the conclusion that I am just as prejudice in my own business and that discrimination in business building is actually completely common and necessary to have a successful business – we just call it “targeted marketing” instead of “selective discrimination” to keep it all feeling positive, warm and fuzzy.
I discriminate all the time on this site, in fact yesterday I turned down a guest blogger who was smart, switched on and loved startups simply because they have never actually started a business of their own, and that is one of my conditions for publishing professional advice pieces, my demographic is startups, others may read the content and enjoy it, but I make no apologies for only targeting the audience I want to capture. Fernwood don’t allow men at their clubs, are totally up front about it and market only to women and this has been extremely successful for them. Some clothing shops only stock certain sizes of clothing, is that because they don’t like fat people? or are they targeting a particular type of person – because I know that I can hardly fit my forearm inside a pair of pants from Top Man let alone a thigh! The Entourage are very clear that they have an under 40 demographic, some may call it ageism, I see it as serving a niche. Clubs everywhere keep their male / female ratio’s uneven so there are always more females in the club, crowd control or sexist? The fact is these business owners know why people come to their venue, they know what they are giving people and they know people will return again and again if they keep meeting these needs.
Peel is no different, do they want to capture the female market at all? No, they even discriminate against lesbians. They want to be known as a place for gay men, they are marketing themselves on those that enter will be having a big gay, trashy, uninhibited time and the patrons who keep coming back love it, because they keep spending their money and keep the business thriving. There are alternatives, and whenever a marketing plan in business fails, you go ahead and implement a new one. But if something is working and yielding good results, then I think you are crazy to change it.
Having a very specific target market is not a crime, business owners should only allow themselves to be judged by those who put money in their bank, once the money stops coming in, then you know you have the wrong marketing / target marget / rule of engagement in place.
Would I go to The Peel? Depends who I am with, the rules are clear they don’t exactly make a secret of who they don’t want there.