A month after declaring a shift in its corporate giving strategy, Target Corp. on Tuesday unveiled the first new campaign under its new focus on health and wellness.
The Minneapolis-based retailer is partnering with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to sell a line of wearable fitness bands geared toward children. The devices, which keep track of children’s steps and movements, are aimed at encouraging young people to be active.
Whenever a customer buys a band, which sells for $39.99, Target will donate $10 to fund therapeutic food packets that will be sent to malnourished children around the world.
“We know that one in four kids in the U.S. is inactive and one in four kids globally are malnourished,” said Angie Thompson, a Target spokeswoman. “So this program helps address both of these challenges.”
Kids will be able to keep track of how many steps they take, which are translated into points that unlock food packets that will be donated through a companion app in UNICEF’s Kid Power program. Children can also go on “missions” in the app through which they learn about other cultures and can earn more points for completing various activities and challenges.
In addition, Target will also donate $2.5 million to the UNICEF program to support a related initiative in schools, Thompson said.
Last month, Target announced it was changing its corporate social responsibility strategy to move away from education, which had been its previous focus. As part of that shift, at the end of this school year Target will discontinue its “Take Charge of Education” program, in which holders of Target’s Redcard can designate that 1 percent of their purchase total go to a school of their choice.
Target decided instead to focus on health and wellness, which executives say is the top priority of the chain’s most-valued customers. But leaders have emphasized that Target will continue to support some education-related programs, especially if they have a health component.
Laysha Ward, Target’s chief corporate social responsibility officer, said the company will also try to integrate its charitable focus more directly into the products it sells on the shelves.
“The win for corporate social responsibility is that it truly can help drive societal and business impact,” she told the Star Tribune last month. “They are not mutually exclusive.”
That dual-pronged focus is apparent in the Kid Power program. The fitness bands will be available for pre-order starting today exclusively on Target.com and will be available starting Nov. 29 in time for the holidays. They will be available in blue and orange as well as in two special “Star Wars” editions. The wearable devices will also be sold in some Target stores next year.
UNICEF piloted the Kid Power program in schools in Boston, Dallas and New York City in March of this year.
With Target’s sponsorship, the Kid Power program will be expanded to more schools across the country next year with plans to reach 70,000 students. Target and other sponsors such as Disney will help foot the bill for the devices at high-needs schools and will also provide tablets and supplemental curriculum materials so teachers can incorporate the program into a lesson.
The charitable program is the latest example of Target’s interest in wearable fitness trackers. Last month, the retailer also announced that it would give Fitbits to all of its 350,000 employees to encourage them to be more active.