Okay, let’s first set the record straight.. The French equivalent of Target Corp. is not Chez Target (roughly pronounced shay tarjay). Someone invented the phrase to describe Target’s cheap chic esthetic.
Point of Sale only makes this point because of the issues that Target must confront as it prepares to open stores this year in Quebec, Canada.
To put it mildly, the province is quite protective of its French culture, particularly its language. In fact, Quebec law requires all business names be in French. That’s why Kentucky Fried Chicken is “Poulet Frit Kentucky” and Staples is “Bureau en Gros.”
Parti Quebecois, the conservative nationalistic party that runs the government, now wants to tighten the law to force retailers like Wal-Mart and Gap to either Frenchify their names or somehow add a French word to the brand. Since there is no real French equivalent for “Wal-Mart,” you can see how this can be problematic.
Last fall, Wal-Mart, along with Richfield-based Best Buy Co., filed a lawsuit seeking to block the government’s move. (A spokeswoman for Best Buy confirmed the company had joined the lawsuit but declined further comment.) The case is still pending.
Target officials would only say they are working with the local officials to respect the language law but also protect their brand’s integrity.
Target and Best Buy have good reason to protect their brands, in part, because they don’t particularly translate well into French.
Best Buy would be “Le Meilleure Achat.” Target translates into “cible,” “but,” or “objectif.”
Somehow, it just doesn’t sound the same.
Target does fashion. Target does music. So why doesn’t the retailer do both at the same time?
It’s a legitimate question to ask, especially when you consider Target’s big day this past Sunday.
In the morning, the retailer launched its exclusive spring collection from Prabal Gurung, a young designer who has dressed Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama.
Later at night, Target debuted a commercial during the Grammy Awards that announced its partnership with Justin Timberlake on The 20/20 Experience, his first album in six years.
Given Target’s firm footing in the often complementary worlds of music and fashion, it would seem natural for the company to combine the two.
Of course plenty of singers have launched their own clothing lines. And many were flops. But imagine if you will, if the always spiffy looking JT simultaneously created both an album and fashion collection for Target? Or if Taylor Swift performed the exclusive tracks from her album sold only at Target at the launch party for Jason Wu’s latest clothing line for Target, while wearing clothes from that collection? Synergies galore!
So what say you Jeff Jones?
“It certainly is a viable idea,” Jones, Target’s chief marketing officer, told me. “But not at this stage.”
Timberlake, a deft cross over artist who easily straddles multiple musical genres and mediums (see The Social Network), would seem like an ideal candidate to market both music and clothes. Looking dapper in classic tux, JT performed a single from the new album called (what else?) Suit and Tie, a clever fusion of hip hop, R&B, and Big Band standards.
The Timberlake commercial that immediately followed the performance — which features the pop star dressed in the same tux walking slowly toward a bright red microphone that sports Target’s logo — drew much praise from advertising critics. The retailer is accepting pre-orders of the album, which will hit shelves in March and feature two exclusive tracks.
“It’s a big deal,” said Amy Koo, an analyst with Kantar Retail consulting firm outside of Boston. “People will be wanting those extra tracks.”
Since Timberlake has not released an album in six years, sales of The 20/20 Edition could surpass first week sales of Target’s edition of Taylor Swift’s album Red, the retailer’s best performing first week album so far. Ironically, the band that previously held the top spot was Timberlake's old band, 'N Sync.
“It certainly has the makings of a blockbuster,” Jones said.
Imagine that demand spill over into a collection of suits and ties from the man who brought sexy back.
Call me Jeff. Let’s discuss this over lunch.
Sports Illustrated and women don't appear to go hand in hand, especially when it comes to the magazine's annual swimsuit issue.
But believe it or not, quite a few women actually read the issue because they're interested in...swimwear.
That's why Target Corp. will announce Tuesday that it will partner with SI to present six pages of advertisements in the iconic issue. It won't be just splashy photos but also a how to guide for women who need help in assembling an ideal look for the pool or beach.
"Most people think the issue is for guys," Target chief marketing officer Jeff Jones said in an interview. "But the women readership is actually shocking. Target has long been a destination for swimwear. It was a great opportunity to try something that has never been done before."
Jones has certainly been busy. On Sunday, the retailer launched its latest design partnership with up and coming fashion designer Prabal Gurung. Target also announced it will exclusively release a deluxe edition of Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, his first new album in six years.
As my colleague Lee Schafer pointed out in a recent column, Target Corp. over the years has not done particularly well during the all important holiday shopping period of November and December.
Theories abound: Target does not sufficiently cut prices. Target lacks the broad selection of Amazon and Wal-Mart.
But here’s an interesting theory from retail consultant Carol Spieckerman: Target just looks too much like Christmas all year around.
Target's stores, logo, and mascot already decked out in copious amounts of red and white, which makes it hard for its Christmas decorations to stand out.
That’s not entirely implausible. Retailers always use holiday decorations and music to get people into that giving/shopping spirit.
But slapping a wreath or tinsel in a store that already looks like one giant candy cane perhaps desensitizes people to Target’s holiday charms. The retailer also traditionally does not play music at its stores.
“I wouldn’t discount it,” said retail consultant Doug Stephens. “Color changes can make a huge difference in consumer perception.”
A recent study also suggested consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with retailers’ earlier and earlier embrace of the holidays.
78 percent of American adults think stores should not play Christmas music and 75 percent think stores shouldn’t put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, according to a survey by SOASTA Inc., a cloud and mobile testing firm.
Unless Target suddenly changes its color scheme, Christmas might always come too early for its customers.
Target lumped its Target + Neiman Marcus collection into the Christmas ornaments, gift bags and stockings and marked it all down at 70 percent off in a clearance sale that started in stores and online Jan. 1.
A few items appear to be sold out such as the Joseph Altuzarra serving tray but some popular sellers such as the Tracy Reese dessert plates were still showing availability at Neimanmarcus.com on Tuesday morning (sorry, the plates are now showing sold out). The collection is still discounted 50 percent, not 70, at Neiman Marcus.
Target.com is showing that nearly all of the items are sold out in stores, but many of them remained at the Nicollet Mall location. The Jason Wu red, white and black ornament set and the Oscar de la Renta pet bowls are still in abundance there.
Bargain hunters who are now interested in the collection should still be able to find most of the items if they're willing to check stock at the Neiman and Target stores and then the website. Some stores might be willing to check stock at other locations. Those who are looking for a discount even higher than 70 percent might be able to see that on or after Jan. 5. That's the date when the collection is no longer returnable, according to information printed on sales receipts.
If Target doesn't mark items down 80 or 90 percent, then "diggers" might find the remainders at the lower level of the Salvation Army location in the warehouse district at 900 N. 4th St., Mpls., 612-332-5855. Target sells its end of season closeouts to the Salvation Army, but the discounts rarely seem better than 70 percent unless the item is damaged.
Target corporation, always quick to start and end a trend, slashed prices on all 60 pieces in its Target + Neiman Marcus collection on Thursday. About 20 shoppers, nearly all of them Target corporate employees who must have gotten a memo, stood patiently waiting for the security guard to let them in when the Nicollet Mall store opened at 7 a.m. All immediately rushed to the nearby Target + Neiman Marcus collection where Tracy Reese dessert plates quickly were cleaned off the shelves. Tory Burch's lunch box, Diane von Furstenberg's yoga mat and a rag & bone flask were also selling quickly. All items were still in stock this morning at Target.com, which also has the collection discounted 50 percent.
Neiman Marcus.com did not have the collection discounted on its website as of 8 a.m. Thursday morning.
Some analysts believed that the hype was better than the sales for the 24-designer collection. Citibank retail analyst Deborah Weinswig thought Target made a mistake putting the collection at the back of the store. Still, not all stores placed the collection in the back. The Nicollet Mall store, for example, put it front and center on the skyway level.
Target said comparing the NM collection with Missoni was unfair. Although the Missoni collection was such a success that the website crashed, the NM partnership was more deeply stocked. Also, customers were restricted to buying no more than five of one item.
As for the complaint that the clothing was too expensive at about $100 an item, the $50 price point after the discount should prove more enticing.