I love Target. They have done the most wonderful job marketing and branding themselves. It is the first retail establishment that carries “inexpensive” i.e., low-end merchandise that appeals to customers who usually shop at expensive or mid-priced retailers. How does Target succeed where so many others have failed? Here is my B.A. in Art History, M.A. in Liberal Studies, non-economics major analysis.
First, Target is a clean, bright and well-organized store. I have always found K-Marts and Walmarts to be dark, dingy and depressing. There are some Target stores that are not as attractive as others (I have been in about 5: 4 were very good, 1 was mediocre). And while K-Mart was one of the first to use celebrity “designers” for its merchandise (e.g., Jaclyn Smith, Martha Stewart), Target carries more design-worthy merchandise on an overall basis. Now, I’m not suggesting one should look for anything too serious at Target. Wedding dresses, Bar Mitzvah suits, good shoes, etc. still need to be purchased elsewhere. However, toys, socks, kids’ underwear, t-shirts, hair color, cards, wrapping paper, etc. – these are plentiful, practical, and well-priced.
From a sociological perspective, Target doesn’t feel cheap. It doesn’t feel low class. The three times I have been to a Walmart store I felt like I was entering a third world country (which is ironic, since most of the goods at these establishments are made in third world countries). I don’t want to be a snob about this, but people greeting me with no teeth in half their mouth and ripped polyester clothes usually doesn’t do too much to enhance a shopper’s first impression of a store. I realize that shopping at this type of retailer is a necessity for many people, but if I had to choose out of all of these establishments, I would choose Target. A clean, well-lit, non-cluttered display of merchandise goes a long way toward establishing customer confidence and loyalty. So long as they stick to this formula, they will remain on my list of preferred retailers.
I’d like to hear what you have to say about this. Write me.