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.
Target Corp. has certainly come a long way with its e-commerce efforts. Two years ago, the company’s website couldn’t even properly process orders following the roll out of its Missoni collection.
Fast forward to 2013. As of the first week of November, all 1,800 of Target’s stores in the United State offer consumers the ability pick up merchandise in the store that they had ordered online.
Buy Online, Pick Up in Store is not exactly new: Best Buy and Macy’s have long offered the service. But given its ambitious timetable—CEO Gregg Steinhafel told analysts during the summer the retailer planned to complete the roll out by Black Friday—Target not only finished the job but finished it a good three weeks early.
Amy Koo, a retail analyst at Kantar Retail, expressed skepticism that Target could complete the project in such tight timeframe. But the company seems to have adopted a more cautious approach to the rollout, she said.
Unlike the launch of the redesigned Target.com in 2011, the retailer has not heavily publicized the debut of Buy Online, Pick Up in Store. Back then, critics argued that Target did not adequately test its website to see if it could handle all of the heavy traffic the Missoni collection was bound to attract.
This time though, Target opted for a “soft launch” to first the test the service on employees and some customers.
“Target did not make a big splash, which makes it easier for them to first get the hang of it ,” Koo said. “It’s a real good thing to ease into it rather than make a big blowout statement.”
Even now, the service remains rather low key. Koo said a store she recently visited was only filling 10 to 15 orders a day.
Target is apparently still working out the bugs. A good friend in San Francisco recently complained to this blogger that the item she ordered on the website was not set aside for her when she visited the store.
“Target made up for it though by helping me find the items and helping me wheel them to my car,” she said.
The National Retail Federation had some interesting numbers from Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend.
Low prices helped keep Americans’ budgets in check this weekend: on average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year.
That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another interpretation: consumers on average spent less than they did than the same period a year ago.
More than 141 million unique shoppers have already or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million.
More shoppers are always a good thing. But when you factor in how much money they spent, you get this: the number of shoppers over the weekend grew just 1.4 percent while average spending fell 4 percent.
Yikes. A 1.4 percent gain in shoppers hardly equals out a 4 percent decline in spending. Retailers are essentially brawling over a barely growing pool of Black Friday shoppers who are actually spending less on average than did a year ago.
In addition, there is one less shopping week this year because Thanksgiving fell on the last week of November. Suddenly, a season with an already low margin of (profit) error just got a little more perilous.