Thursday, March 24, 2011

Target Store Brands Climb To New Heights

A few days ago, I visited my son at college. We had a few errands to run and found ourselves shopping at a new Target which had just opened a few weeks earlier. The store had a cool urban feel to it that intrigued us enough to want to check it out.

We parked under the store (which we really appreciated in the midst of a sleet storm) and took an escalator up a level to begin our shopping trip. What awaited at the top lured us into the store, encouraging us to explore.  (Paco Underhill would be proud of Target's merchandising.)

The store was like a shiny new toy ... all bright, fresh and colorful ... begging to be touched and explored. But, truthfully, what really got us excited and engaged wasn't the convenient parking lot, the IKEA-like escalator ride for our cart, the shiny new fixtures, or the panacea of shopping delights ... it was the grocery section of the store.

Matt and I had fully intended to pick up a few household items at Target and then proceed to Trader Joe's to pick up some groceries to feed my "starving" college student. What ended up happening was far different.

As we began to browse the grocery store aisles, Matt's interest went from lukewarm to "on fire" within a matter of moments.  He picked up product after product, commenting on how beautiful Target's Archer Farms packaging was and how unique their flavor combinations were. Before either of us knew it, he had nearly filled the cart with all kinds of goodies for the days and weeks ahead.

I found this whole experience interesting on two fronts:

1) I had just read last week about Target's plans to open an urban store in Chicago on State Street. In the article, they talked about their mission to offer "affordable fresh foods" to urban dwellers. The article stuck with me but I didn't truly understand the impact of their words until I walked through the grocery aisle of the Hilldale Target. As Johnny Nash croons, "I can see clearly now."

2) After working on private label brands for several clients, including the likes of Winn-Dixie, I have learned how incredibly important photography and package design are in the positioning of a store-branded product. Since retailers typically do not invest a great deal in advertising or marketing their own brands, the packaging often represents the first and last billboard for their products. If not positioned properly, the best the brand can hope for are sales from value shoppers that cannot afford to buy anything else.  Target clearly understands the profile of their shopper - white collar, college educated quality seekers who appreciate value - and markets directly to them with exquisite photography and appetizing flavors.

On a side note, I must tell you that my son specifically asked me to write this blog about Target and Archer Farms. To his way of thinking, brands that get it right deserve to be promoted.  (Note: These photographed items all found their way into Matt's freezer.)

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