The entrance of Target's new store in New York's Herald Square.

Target Corp. is embracing an inclusive, measured holiday strategy with solutions for families and merchandising surrounding “life’s moments.”

The retailer’s campaign will be themed “Together’s the Joy.” Consistently low prices, an initiative the retailer calls “priced right daily,” will be combined with promotions such as a new Weekend Deals program, which replaces the 10 Days of Deals, which started in 2015. “We repeated it last season, but did not get the same results,” said Rick Gomez, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Weekend Deals is timed to coincide with when consumers are shopping most.

Technology is key to the retailer’s holiday season with a mobile wallet function being programmed into the Target app for Red card holders. It will allow those customers to pay for store purchases and redeem Cartwheel offers by scanning their phones. An expanded partnership with Google will offer same-day shipping and voice-enabled shopping via Google Assistant, while drive-up packing pick-up service is being offered in the Twin Cities.

“We’re absolutely focused on bringing the best of Target to digital,” said Mike McNamara, executive vice president, chief information and digital officer. “We’re also merchandising digitally around life’s moments.”

Target’s research showed that its digital brand awareness is 58 percent versus Amazon, at 44 percent. He said the retailer mistakenly assumed that young families were its biggest consumer base. “We left a lot of sales on the table by not marketing to [demographic constituencies ] like empty nesters. We’re increasing our media spend by high single digits during the holiday period. We’re collaborating with Pop Sugar on an interactive gift-giving hub, working with the NFL and Snapchat for an artificial reality immersive experience. This will help us extend our reach.”

In addition, “We will continue to spend at a leadership level on Hispanic marketing,” Gomez said. “We have to make sure we’re culturally relevant.”

Target is counting on exclusive products to inspire consumers to shop. The retailer in February announced that it would create a dozen new brands in the next 18 months. Seven of the brands have already launched, while a codesigned collection, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, is set to bow on Nov. 5. Target is anticipating a breakout hit for the long-term partnership with Chip and Joanna Gaines, which will feature 300 products, including tabletop, home decor, a doll house, letter to Santa mailbox and giftables, with most priced under $30. “Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, this engine is coming into our business at the beginning of the holiday season,” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Target.

Free shipping, the price of entry to the holiday season, will start on Nov. 1 and continue through Dec. 23, with no minimum order requirement.

“We’re making progress against our long-term strategy and entering the season with momentum,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target. “While there’s an incredible amount of change happening across retail, we’re focused on doing what’s best for our guest and leaning into what makes Target special. We’re investing millions in payroll hours.” The retailer is hiring more than 100,000 temporary staff for the holidays.

“We’re focused on being the top destination for gifts,” said Tritton. The retailer created an e-gifting solution, GiftNow on Gift givers can click the GiftNow button on products on and send an e-gift box, which will allow the recipient to accept the gift, change the size or color or choose something different – before anything is shipped.

At a time when retailers rush from one holiday to the next – the pumpkins haven’t been removed when the tinsel is being hung at many stores – Target is taking a very contrarian approach. “Guests want us to pause and recognize Thanksgiving before going right into Christmas,” said Tritton.


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