Consumer Reports recently looked at the up side and down sides of Target's Up & Up and other store brands, giving thumbs up or thumbs down. (OK--enough with the UPpity language.) Why consider store brands? The 30 percent savings over name brands, according to Consumer Reports. You can save even more at Target using a Redcard, the occasional Up & Up coupon in the Sunday flier, and Cartwheel mobile coupons.
Coffeemaker: Black & Decker coffeemaker model CM4000S--a 12 cup drip coffeemaker that is exclusive to Target ($40) combines solid brew performance and intuitive operation, the magazine reported. A Black & Decker Single Serve CM620B model ($35) was judged the best of the single serve bunch.
Condiments: Market Pantry ketchup was judged as good as Heinz, Market Pantry mayonnaise as good as Hellman's, and Archer Farms 100% pure maple syrup was judged as having a thick, full, bold flavor.
Frozen veggies: Market Pantry frozen mixed veggies were as crisp and fresh-tasting as Birds Eye.
Paper products: Up & Up full-sheet puddle buster paper towels were good for absorbency but not scrubbing. The Up & Up Aloe and Vitamin E Lotion facial tissues were "exceptionally soft," according to CR. Alternates: Good Housekeeping likes Costco's Kirkland Signature paper towels but my beef is that they don't come in choose-a-size yet. GH also likes Walgreen's Nice! facial tissues with lotion at 2 cents per tissue.
Snacks: Market Pantry Peanut Sweet & Salty Granola Bars, Archer Farms Jumbo cashews, Archer Farms Trail Mix and Market Pantry vanilla ice-cream were all highly rated.
Pain relievers: Up & Up Ibuprofen (generic Advil), Up & Up Naproxen (generic Aleve), and generic Allegra were all significantly cheaper than store versions at Walgreens and Rite Aid. CR did not compare prices with Wal-Mart (Equate brand), which is usually slightly cheaper than Target.
Detergents: Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports have long raved about Wal-Mart's Great Value dishwashing powder (10 cents per load), but GH also liked Target's Up & Up 2X HE Fresh Breeze liquid laundry detergent (11 cents per large load).
Target's Chefmate cookware ($55 for 16 pieces), Market Pantry Classic Roast coffee, Market Pantry Caesar salad dressing, Up & Up dish packs dishwasher detergent and its Cube Merlot wine (now sold in Otsego, Minn.) were judged not worth buying.
Target isn't "nickel and diming" its customers lately. You may have noticed that almost each week in its Sunday newspaper flier it offers a coupon for $5 to $20 off a specified category. This week it's $5 off a meat purchase of $20 or more (fresh, frozen or deli) and $5 off S-sport shoes. Last week it was $15 off a $50 purchase in the pet dept. (food, litter and treats) and $10 off a home furnishings purchase of $50 or more. Three weeks ago it was $20 off a $100 purchase in the baby department.
Pick up an extra copy of the circular w/ the coupon at the service desk or get a text on your smartphone while you're in the store (check signs in the highlighted department for the number).
Target hasn't cut back on promotional gift cards with purchase either. Recent amounts have varied from $5 to $100 with the purchase of Apple products, pet products, Advil, Charmin, Clorox and Burt's Bees.
But the promo that really surprised me is today's $10 off a store policy, not a product. Through Saturday, Aug. 2, you can get $10 off an online order of $40 or more when you choose store pickup. That's a discount that's been promoted before but never discounted, said Target spokesman Eddie Baeb. He said the store pickup consistently makes up more than 10 percent of Target's online sales, but the company offered the promotion "to drive more engagement and use," since it debuted nationally in November 2013.
Kathee Tesija, Target’s executive vice president of merchandising, said late last year that the retailer would be offering "some eye-popping, irresistible deals" during the holidays and beyond. Eight months and many circulars later, I'm inclined to agree that the deals do seem better. The downside? Consumers have to spend more to get the savings, which hurts lower-income shoppers.
But I'd rather get a $5 savings in one fell swoop than have to collect ten 50 cent coupons.
In today's article about Target's latest collaboration with manufacturers, I mention that Target will release more than 120 different products from 17 existing brands in its Made to Matter--Handpicked by Target collection of natural, organic and sustainable products. All are new and exclusive to Target for at least six months. Here are the months the new products will be released.
Evol Foods: Four products, including breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches.
Plum Organics: Five products including Super Smoothie and a nutrition platform of organic snacks for kids to be released in spring and summer.
Seventh Generation: Four products including a natural hand wash and dish wash called Purifying Line and the first-ever disposable diaper made from unbleached cotton.
Zarbee's Naturals: Zarbee's Seasonal Relief will be added to the line of cough/sore throat remedies free of alcohol, drugs, glutens and dyes.
Annie's Homegrown: Four new products.
Simply Balanced: New organic products such as applesauce squeezers, trail mix and fruit and vegetable strips. (Simply Balanced is a Target brand.)
Chobani: One new product.
Horizon Organic: Kid-approved organic cheese shapes in cheddar and colby jack flavors.
SheaMoisture: A new line of skin and hair care products made with shea butter.
Yes To: A product line made from fruits and veggies from the natural beauty products company.
Burt's Bees: Three new shades of lip gloss, tinted lip balm and lip shine.
Hyland's Inc.: Hyland's 4 kids Complete Cold â€˜n Cough.
Kashi Foods: One new product.
Method: A first-of-its-kind, non-aerosol air enhancer spray.
Vita Coco: An all-natural, multi-flavor beverage line from the coconut water brand.
Clif Bar & Company: Two bars, one Clif and one Luna.
Ella's Kitchen: Two products, including electrolyte beverages and nutritional shakes, both for kids.
Do you get the feeling that Target is bleeding under water and sharks are feeding on the corporation? The data breach has many reporting Target's missteps and it appears to resemble a feeding frenzy for sharks.
How else can a person interpret the latest antics of the Miami DJ who hoarded nearly $5,700 of merchandise from the Jason Wu collection in Feb. 2012?
According to the Riptide blog, Kevin Wills and his then wife were first in line at a midtown Miami Target store to get pieces of the Wu collaboration. Wills and his wife snatched up cart-fulls of Wu booty, causing recrimination from other shoppers who left Wu-less. (This was before Target instituted a buyer limit on designer collections.) Allegedly, some outraged shoppers physically attacked him while he and his then wife tried to leave the store with their hoard.
One customer allegedly shoved her cart into Wills' legs as her husband said that he was going to "kick Wills' ___."
Maybe it took WIlls two years to discover his legs aren't healing or maybe he figured that everyone is suing Target these days so why not try to cash in with everyone else?
Either way, Wills decided that Target didn't do enough that day to protect him from the angry mob. His proof is that Target dropped its no-limit purchase policy immediately after the incident. He also claims that Target made "hundreds of thousands if not millions in advertising" when the media outlets from the Hollywood Reporter to the Huffington Post ridiculed his behavior.
Target's partnership with Peter Pilotto appears to be off to a good start. A number of pieces are sold out online and in stores. Hot sellers included a purple floral print dress, tote bags, towels, sunglasses, cardigans and sneakers. Nearly all of the 36 items chosen by the London-based internet retailer Net-a-Porter are sold out.
In a quick stock check online (which tracks stock store-by-store too), the following items were sold out or hit-and-miss by size: purple floral print dress ($70), green floral print tote bag ($40), green floral swim cover-up ($35), black and white/orange sunglasses ($17), and colorblock cardigan ($35).
It's possible that part of the bricks and mortar success may be because of the line being carried in a smaller number of stores. Beth Perro-Jarvis of Ginger Consulting in Minneapolis wrote in an email, "It's smart they limit the assortment and quantities. Easier to sell out, post a win and not be stuck with an abundance of clearance stock which they famously were with the NM partnership. That tends to create negative buzz."
According to the store stock counts online, Minneapolis downtown and Roseville seem to have the best selection. But showing "out of stock" for certain items at the Edina store or the Lake St. store is misleading because those stores didn't receive any of the collection anyway.
It’s no secret that Target Corp. has high hopes for its PFresh grocery format. Food and grocery products are driving most of Target’s slow comp sales growth—0.5 percent over nine months. PFresh also attracts a lot of repeat business since people will eventually run out milk and bread.
Grocery items are not the easiest things to carry, even for people just wanting to make a quick run for a few items. So why does Target located PFresh so far away from store entrances?
Precisely because Target does not want consumers to make a quick run for a few food items.
“Target wants PFresh customers but they don’t want just PFresh customers ,” said Amy Koo, an analyst with Kantar Retail consulting firm in Boston.
Target’s strategy has always been to get people to buy as much as they can in a store. You may have intended go to a Target only to buy milk and bread but you wind up leaving with a cart full of higher margin clothes, accessories, and home goods. Think about the REDcard ‘s 5 percent discount of total purchases. The more you buy, the bigger the discount.
That strategy is embedded in the store design: to get to PFresh, you must generally pass through a gauntlet of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and sporting goods, a pathway that will inevitably tempt you to buy more.
“It’s like Target is saying ‘we are going to call you on your bluff,’” Koo said. “You may have intended to buy food but you really want to buy clothes.”
Excluding SuperTargets, regular Target stores usually have only one entrance, lest you sneak in through a side door closer to PFresh.
Target’s strategy is clever but does not come without sacrifices. The first is convenience.
Consider CityTarget. The retailer touted CityTarget as the ideal smaller format for the hurried urban shopper who are not likely to drive cars and buy large quantities of goods, possibly because they are single and rent apartments. A perfect place where you can rush in during your lunch break or just after work, grab some stuff, and then hurry off to the subway or commuter trains.
But visit the CityTarget in Chicago and you’ll discover PFresh is located on the second floor near the back of the store, arguably the least convenient place to buy groceries.
“Convenience can mean different things,” said spokesman Eric Hausman. “CityTargets are convenient because of their locations” in the city core.
The second issue with Target’s approach is the type of customer it normally attracts. Target has always excelled at making its most loyal shoppers even more loyal. These are the type of customers that will gladly buy a lot of stuff at Target.
And let’s face it: if you’re going to navigate the maze of Target departments just to buy some bread and milk, you must really love Target or you must really love bread and milk.
But here’s the rub: Target actually needs to attract a broader group of shoppers beyond its diehard “Best Guests,” Kantar says.
Given Target’s sales challenges since the Great Recession, Kantar argues the retailer needs to focus on the casual, less affluent customer who are more likely to buy fewer items than load up on the Missoni and Nate Berkus collections.
Indeed, about a third of Target’s sales come from customers who make less than $50,000 a year.
One way Target can reach those customers is to make their shopping experience more convenient. To that effect, Target has established Dollar Store like selections near the checkout areas at the front of the store as well as “grab and go solutions “ throughout its departments.
CEO Gregg Steinhafel has also told analysts that Target is looking for further ways to shrink the size of CityTargets. Perhaps that path to PFresh will get a little shorter.