In this article, we argue that the composition of trade is an important determinant of vulnerability to sanctions. Trade composition has changed considerably over the years since World War II, with growth in intra-industry trade: the exchange of similar, often branded, commodities that follows from varied consumer preferences and economies of scale. Conversely, we see relatively less of the traditional inter-industry trade: exchange of distinct and often homogeneous commodities that follows from comparative advantage. We demonstrate that targets maintaining higher proportions of intra-industry trade with senders benefit from greater resilience against economic coercion and thus are less likely to acquiesce to sanction threats. Importantly, however, we contend that bilateral intra-industry trade does not necessarily prevent the onset of sanction threats. Statistical tests of sanction threat cases and directed dyad-years spanning 1962–2005 support our expectations.