By  on November 3, 2010

NEW YORK — To survive in this climate, retailers need to figure out ways to differentiate themselves — and Target veteran Sally Mueller is hoping to help them shape such strategic platforms.

Mueller, who left Target in June, just launched Mueller Marketing LLC, a consultancy that specializes in retail and brand innovation.

“Brands and retailers are looking for big ideas,” Mueller said. “They are looking to innovate. They understand that it’s crucial for them to develop interesting concepts to differentiate themselves and drive consumers into stores.”

That is something the Minneapolis-based executive knows something about. Mueller worked for the mass retail chain for 24 years, most recently as director of design partnerships. She was instrumental in creating and building Target initiatives such as Go International and Design for All, and worked with more than 30 designers, including Stephen Sprouse, Michael Graves, Alexander McQueen and Liberty of London. These initiatives have contributed to shaping Target’s brand globally and have given the mass retailer credibility in fashion circles.

At Target, Mueller was involved with both the merchandising and marketing sides, working closely with the product-development and design teams.

With her new consultancy, Mueller hopes to help larger retailers as well as small specialty stores develop new, multiyear concepts that will engage consumers in this fast-changing retail landscape.

“Retailers that will survive will figure out a way to differentiate themselves,” Mueller said. “At the core of it, they have to offer fantastic product and they have to figure out a way to build consumer loyalty, which can also come in the form of a very strong e-commerce or Internet arm to their businesses.”

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