Minda Gralnek, Target Corp.

Target may not have been the first mass marketer to enter the beauty realm, but the discounter has tried to do it better than the competition.

Target may not have been the first mass marketer to enter the beauty realm, but the discounter has tried to do it better than the competition.

“Getting Target into the business of beauty wasn’t something we did early in our company history,” said Minda Gralnek, vice president and creative director for Target Corp. “Target made its definitive foray into beauty in the late 1990s, nearly four decades after we opened our first store. But what we’ve done since has paved new ground.”

Gralnek singled out initiatives such as Target’s partnership with Sonia Kashuk, which has expanded beyond color cosmetics to brushes and fragrances. Gralnek said more extensions are coming in other categories.

“As you know, cosmetics can be intimidating to many women and the numerous product choices and price points can be overwhelming. And that’s why Sonia’s collection was a perfect match,” she added, singling out Kashuk in the audience. “We feel her brand helps demystify makeup through easy-to-use, affordable and innovative options.”

With Kashuk, Target got visibility for having a makeup artist that netted great exposure, and also made the chain the first discounter in the market with an exclusive line of prestige products.

Target has enjoyed success with other limited distribution collections such as Britain’s Boots line. “From our Boots partnership we learned many things, such as unique lighting installations and shelving that helped move the product forward. We started the Boots program in select stores and, based on the line’s early success, we’ve rolled it out nationwide,” Gralnek told the Summit audience.

That was followed by Soap & Glory, a bath and body line developed by Bliss founder Marcia Kilgore. “This sassy, fun and affordable brand launched in the U.K. with outstanding success only to arrive Stateside at Barney’s and now at Target,” she said. She applauded the line’s humorous side, such as a top-selling item called Sexy Mother Pucker.

Target is trying to lead the pack in the natural and organic world, too, with personal care from Burt’s Bees, Dr. Bronner’s Kiss My Face and Weleda. “The recent launches of the new organic and natural products have guests talking and buying. Sales have consistently overdelivered since their launch,” Gralnek noted.

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This story first appeared in the May 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sensing an interest in making the bedroom a haven, Target introduced the Target Bath & Body Collection. Initially, the assortment included many brands from Europe that were exclusive in the U.S. to Target. Target, with its ear to consumers, found there were too many choices so the chain put a focus on the bestseller, Kaori, which is now the core bath spa line.

“At Target, we are truly focused on challenging the status quo, taking some calculated risks, thinking differently and discovering fresh ideas,” said Gralnek. “And in beauty we see great opportunities to surprise and delight our beauty guests. For example, in the coming months, Target will roll out some exciting new beauty items and unique product partnerships that will help us deliver on our ‘expect more, pay less’ brand promise. Watch for the new collections to set in stores soon.”

Gralnek attributed Target’s fresh approach to the fact it is the offspring of the Dayton Hudson Corp., one of the nation’s leading department stores for nearly a century. “So right out of the gate, we had a different perspective,” she explained.

The efforts into beauty are paying off handsomely for Target because it brings in a shopper Gralnek called smart, savvy and style-aware and who “loves us.” The current core customer is about 41 and has a medium household income of $58,000 per year. “Talk about a dream guest. She is both beauty- and fashion trend-conscious and uses at least six or seven beauty products every day,” she added.

Beauty is only one example of Target innovation that Gralnek referred to in her presentation. “From the beginning, Target set out to be a different kind of discount store, one that was not only just about price and assortment, but about innovation and creativity,” she said. Gralnek went on to cite programs such as the Go International fashion line, and Target-specific lines from designers such as Proenza Schoeler and Alice Temperley. She also cited the partnership with Barney’s, where the retailer sold Rogan Gregory merchandise from Target.

“Go International is an example of one of the cornerstones of Target’s philosophy, affordable design,” said Gralnek. “The reason we’re so committed is because it clearly differentiates us from our competitors. That focus on differentiation also applies in our beauty business,” she said. Gralnek also focused on the successful redesign of the mundane Rx bottle at Target, complete with color-coded caps so people don’t confuse prescriptions. “We’ve also seen a strong connection between our cosmetics and pharmacy guests,” she added.

Gralnek is a 17-year veteran of Target, where she has seen the brand move from “near anonymity to an incredible, world-class trademark.” The Target bull’s-eye logo is now recognized by 96 percent of Americans, she said.

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