Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Secrets of Target's success...

MediaPost Publications launched Marketing magazine last February with a special report on Marketers of the Year. In the world of Retail, Minneapolis-based Target brought home the magazines top honor. Scouring the web to turn up secrets of the company's success beyond those noted within Sarah Mahoney's great Marketing feature "Hitting the Bull's Eye," what I found were many off-hand expressions of love for this brand and the shopping experiences it offers, with particularly passionate odes stemming from the design community. However, a quote from Retail Forward consultant Jennifer Halterman in the Marketing story seems to hit the nail on the head: "Everything the store does in its marketing, online, and in the store experience, delivers on Target's brand promise: 'Expect more, and pay less.'"

In media analyses, Target is often compared with its competitor Wal-Mart, the latter of which reportedly draws two-thirds of all Americans into one of its stores in any given month (see "Wal-Mart: Deaf to its Best Advisers" from The Blake Project's Branding Strategy Insider). According to Branding Strategy Insider's piece, one result of Wal-Mart's laser-focus on low prices is a common perception of its shoppers as 'hillbillies.' Meanwhile, according to Marketing's story, Target's focus on raised expectations leads to shoppers feeling "clever" -- and "like they've somehow outsmarted Crate & Barrel." By reviewing these two references in more detail, it seems clear that Target's secrets include having clear positioning which separates them from their main competitors, having brilliant, artistic marketing execution which draws in its targeted consumers while also creating an aura of deep affection within all or most of the cultural and business realms it seeks to influence, and being proactive in ensuring that the best practices of its competitors are quickly and stylishly adopted throughout its organization. Target, anyone?