Flooring The Consumer on Simple Marketing Now

Please visit Flooring The Consumer's new home on SimpleMarketingNow.com where you can subscribe to receive updates to blog articles in real time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reactions to the Target Store Experience

If you remember from Target Grand Opening Riverdale, NJ, my friends and I eagerly awaited the opening on our new Target.

We haven't been disappointed!

Jill went to Target with her 2 year old -Devin- in tow. She says: "FABULOUS store. VERY friendly sales people who are surprisingly knowledgeable! I asked where I could find some packs of wash cloths for the girls and a salesperson showed me 2 different locations for them (baby isle and towel section). Obviously the shelves were packed with goods for their first day. It was so great to find clothes for Sydney [her 6 year old] in her size as I never get lucky with cute stuff!

I checked out the “family bathroom” and it was clean and large. I painfully passed by the home good section which happens to be amazing at most Targets as Devin was getting a little cranky. I plan on returning when I can browse in peace and harmony.

Parking is going to be a nightmare, though. I love the store and can’t wait to get back in!"

Dina says: "I enjoyed my shopping experience at Target-not a fan of the new carts… Bumped into many a fixture. Great layout; clean, inviting-tons of great merchandise…dressing rooms very large; like the family dressing room…smells from snack bar and Starbucks pleasant. Cashiers and workers very friendly and quick…. A+."

My other friend, Lisa Contreras, has a unique take on retail establishments. You may remember her from Bloomingdales Bathroom Makeover. Her expertise is about designing retail spaces, and I treasure her perspective on the Target Store Experience.

Lisa says: "I often feel that the Target Corporation has a disconnect between their advertising, merchandising and store design. The excitement of their commercials and their ability to rethink the advertising of a "discount" store has truly revolutionized the market... In fact, many commercials look like theirs now, even Macy's. I have often wished that their stores conveyed the excitement, uniqueness, and brand identity that their commercials do. With this skepticism, I visited Target, Riverdale tonight on my way home from work.

As I drove north on Rte 23, I was excited. I exited onto the causeway that connected Rte. 23 to the store.

The parking lot was well marked and I could feel the Target brand beginning. I liked the building. Usually, the buildings are boring blocks of concrete; here, the architect used glass penetrations to see into the store, to give the customer a glimpse of what was to come... Here, the signage became the brand. The big round red balustrade balls reinforce the Target brand, as well as a large open cut out painted red to the right of the door. I had trouble determining the "in"... I think it should have been on the right. Instead, it was on the left with only a small sign saying "in".

As I entered the store, I was pleasantly surprised. The Target brand had made its way into the store. Large red graphics with the signature bullseye in neon decorated the perimeters of the store. Circulation was clean and straightforward. Toilets to the left as you entered, with customer service. Merchandise throughout the store was neat and nicely organized (it really was the first day!).

I was interested in how Target continued their brand identity throughout the customer enhancement opportunities. The fitting area is communal - men, women, kids - with a central desk where I was greeted by a friendly associate. I was happy to see that Target had implemented the "family fitting room" with larger rooms for the entire family...great idea. The individual fitting rooms were also equipped with a red mushroom shaped stool and carpeting that hinted at the Target brand. A large mirror and many "hooks" made it easy to try things on.

The toilets were simple and straight forward and, of course, clean as it was the first day. There was a family toilet, reflecting the needs of the Target Customer.

I walked the store and found the plan to be typical of that of other stores. As always, the merchandise raises the bar for discounters. I can never leave a Target without buying something. Today, I bought a herringbone brown wool skirt with a faux suede waist, a grey "wool" shirt dress with hidden accents of lime green, a gift card for a birthday party, and a cool Halloween bucket.

I wish, though, that Target would experiment more with new ideas for the store interior. There are still racks upon racks of merchandise.... I wish they would rethink their display ideas in the same way they have excited the public with their commercials. Maybe that isn't what they wish to convey? Maybe what they do now adequately speaks to all segments of the population? "Big Box" retail seems to have become the norm in the US lately and I wonder what the future evolution of this type of store will be: accessible to everyone, with just enough "savvy" to excite, without intimidating, but still able to sell toilet paper."

As you think through these various reactions - from coveted target shopper to discerning professional - keep in mind that the subtle nuances of the professional are ones that the shopper may not verbalize, but still reacts to.

I've always enjoyed how Target stores exude the Target brand, in a way not too dissimilar from The Apple Store and the Apple brand. This store doesn't disappoint. In fact, it's the best Target brand execution I've seen so far.

Given this intimate exposure to Target in my backyard, I've been paying more attention to Target's presence online. In Target Grand Opening Riverdale, NJ, I was disappointed in my poor search results. Well, did you know that Target has created a Facebook group, strongly branded as you can see in the image above, with close to 15,000 members? [Starbucks has too many to count with over 100,000 members; those look to be user created. Apple has an Apple Students site with 400,000 members.]

I learned recently that Target has a strong direct marketing heritage, having hired many former Fingerhut marketers. That explains the focus on traditional direct marketing activities to drive sales, and exploration with new venues like Facebook to promote contests. It will be interesting to see if Target's interactive marketing groups integrate efforts with corporate communications, advertising and local store activities in the future.

In the meantime, the Riverdale, NJ Target retail store experience does not disappoint, with great attention having been placed on reinforcing the iconic Target brand at every opportunity starting with the large bulls eye signaling the turn off to drivers, to parking lot symbology, to numerous examples in store. Are you as consistent with your store experience?

Technorati Tags: Del.icio.us Tags:


Anonymous said...


Target always surprises me, in a good way, and that's good for marketing and sales. Wal-Mart could learn a thing or two from Target.

Valeria Maltoni said...

CB: great reference to the subtle distinctions in verbalizing what we react to -- professionals are used to doing that. But also a good lesson for social media. The more opportunities you give people to have a blank space to tell you anything they think, the greater the chance you will capture that feedback even when not verbalized professionally.

About parking lots -- this is where design *needs* to improve. I might do a post on this very topic. The whole experience starts in the lot.

CB Whittemore said...

Lewis, I agree completely. Our new Target opens 1 mile away and approx. 1 year after Wal-Mart has. The contrast between the two is intense.

CB Whittemore said...

Valeria, you are so right about parking lots! This Target has an unusual signage element at the parking lot that I need to photograph. I look forward to your post!

Anonymous said...

As one who promotes promotional codes for Target I've got to admit they've got a great relationship with their affiliates like me as well. They're always supportive to any questions I have with prompt answers. Gotta love the bull's eye.

CB Whittemore said...

Target fan, it's great to hear Target has such a good relationship with affiliates. They have brilliant visuals and promotional messages. Gotta love the bull's eye is right!

Anonymous said...

Choices: A Target Executive’s Experience

Work over family
Quantity over quality

I’ve made some bad choices, but my worst was accepting the promotion which cost me everything. After 9-11 and the passing of my father, I chose to switch career fields. As a school business administrator, my summers were crazy and I never saw my wife—a teacher—and kids during their off time.

I worked retail in high school and college and loved it, so I joined Target. In my six plus years with Target, I never once said “No” to a new challenge. I moved to four different stores, each position gaining opportunity and responsibility. My last move and promotion came with only three days notice in April of 2006 taking me from home to a new state to open a new store. Target was months behind getting someone into the store and needed me quickly. My wife and I had discussed the possibilities before hand and knew, eventually, my relocation would be necessary for promotion. Several of my peers had relocated with Target and told me Target’s policy was to buy your house if you can’t sell it. After speaking with the relocation company and my superiors, they confirmed the buyout situation, so off I went.

Long story short, an egregious home inspector with a chip on his shoulder created a list of deficiencies which we corrected. A second, third and fourth inspector came, creating more lists and making new call outs. In the end, my house was not bought because of wording deemed exclusionary on the very last contract, on the very last day. This part of the story involves a blizzard and getting caught in the car for seventeen hours on the way to a Target meeting on the same day the contract expired. I digress.

The purchase of my new home was based on the buyout numbers promised for the old house. Since we were pressured to buy immediately, I used credit cards to cover expenses for inspections, storage, and a host of other moving expenses, since the whole moving experience was a 90 day turnaround. We would have to cover the costs. Did I mention this entire experience occurred while my wife was trying to finish up the school year and inspectors, realtors, relocators and Target people frequently called her ten to fifteen times per day while she was teaching?

When the buyout didn’t happen, my wife had to stay and keep her job to pay for the extra house. We switched to an interest only loan to afford the payments and my wife moved in with her family. Did I mention she had health issues, almost dying during this timeframe? Fortunately, I had my in-laws to care for her and my fifteen year old son since I could not leave my store, even when she was in the hospital. Again, I digress.

We have survived all of this for two years now: two years of double house payments, the worst home market in decades and compounded interest on credit cards purchases which were supposed to only be short term and costly trips back and forth so my wife can see our kids once each month. Additionally, this part of the story involves the sudden death of my father in-law (Oct 31, 2007): a firefighter, United States Air Force NCO and good friend. Last time, I digress.

Now, let me discuss my store which opened in a brand new Target market at 130% of goal even with up and down economy fluctuations, new staff, and all new management. Sometimes my team didn’t know what to do; our first quarter was crazy. After six months, things leveled out. My store is one of the top in the region with employee satisfaction, guest service, operational measurements and—for the past four months—one of only a few regional stores to achieve Target’s highest honor: “golden contribution” for financial measurements including sales, payroll, productivity and expenses. My sales were ten percent up in November and the trend should have continued.

Today, three weeks before Christmas, Target fired me. Why? On very few and rare occasions, I had to bring my children to work. I would say my daughter went to work with me four times in two years and my son not significantly more. Combined, they were at the store for maybe two visits during the last eight months. These occasions generally revolved around sickness, someone picking them up at the store, or my wife coming into or leaving town during her monthly visit. They never involved my entire shift of work.

I am not used to being a single parent and do not consider myself one. We are a family separated by Target’s false promises. My daughter is ten and my son is fifteen and ADHD. My kids want to be helpful. They visit with my team when they are in the store and generally stay out of the way. My son is getting close to job age and wants to help and show he knows where things go. He follows me around and tries to help whenever possible. When I catch him trying to stock the shelves or help in any way, my standard response is “Stop, do you want to get me fired?” which is exactly what happened.

On this occasion he wanted to keep me company because he had been out of town visiting mom, our family and attending his Grandfather’s funeral. He was hanging around the store when she brought him back since I had to work during the ten hours she was in town. He would follow me and try to take signs out of sign holders as I was taking the advertised signs down, carry a box, etc. I corrected him several times.

Understandably, as a leader, I need to insure no one works without being paid; my entire team can attest to the fact that I ensure that. I also understand if I brought my kids to work with the intention of having them perform labor or allowed them to work, I would suffer the consequences. Ultimately, I didn’t object strongly enough to my kids trying to be helpful. Now, I am $30,000 – 40,000 in debt, have no savings, no job, two house payments and I am 650 miles from home, with no way to get back. Did I mention I lost a substantial five figure bonus, medical coverage and my pension?

Wish me luck; I’m going to need it. My family is going to need it.

CB Whittemore said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing your story here. It certainly sounds like you have seen your fair share of challenges. I hope that 2008 brings you and your family resolution to many of your issues, as well as opportunities to balance family with work better.

Post a Comment

Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...