Target’s New Marketing Strategy Focuses on Localization


Target is a magical place where we all have been subjected to at least one impulse buy. This past August 2015, the retail giant took big steps in challenging our will power by applying for their liquor licenses to sell and serve alcohol at their Streeterville location near Chicago’s Navy Pier. The Streeterville Target is actually about one fifth the size of Target’s traditional outlets. Target’s spokesperson, Angie Thompson, says this is just the beginning. Thompson says that Target’s strategy for rebranding smaller stores will be “responding to local market conditions. Localization is a priority for us.”


It is interesting to see this trend being adapted by huge retailers like Target. It is definitely a risk to them as they are starting to entertain competing with other upscale grocers including Whole Foods Market and the East Coast’s Wegmans. The Whole Food’s in Chicago already serves alcohol in store and their New York location has a 40-seat bar. In San Francisco, Whole Food locations offer craft beer. Whole Foods began their alcohol-serving venture back in 2011. Whole Foods’ co-CEO Walter Robb explained that, “coming out of the recession, people were looking for affordable luxuries and more intimate experiences.”


In addition to serving alcohol, Target also plans to roll out programs that include new grocery offerings and in-store cafes. Before, groceries for the retail giant were an afterthought; however, Target will now focus on carrying more organic, natural and local products.

Target’s new direction of evolving into a food-centered lifestyle brand is looking like an attempt to catch up with Whole Foods and similar grocers. It makes sense their strategy is slowly shifting because millenials now outnumber baby boomers and are expected to spend over $600 billion this year alone.

Considering target’s customer base, Targets’ new branding strategy seems off-putting. However, if prices remain relatively consistent with their target audience (no pun intended), providing fresher grocery options from established food service companies is a great move towards healthy eating nation wide.

During an interview at the retailer’s Minneapolis headquarters, chief executive, Brian Cornel, believes that the change “…occurred when moms had their first child and began to become almost zealots for ‘All right, what’s in the product that I’m serving my child?’” The chief executive went on to say, “We see rapid shifts from conventional to organic baby food, but then it continues across category. ‘Light,’ ‘diet,’ ‘lean,’ ‘fat-free’ have been now viewed as code for ‘There’s a lot of artificial ingredients there.’”

Although Target didn’t give any more specifications as to next steps their in-store boozing plan launches, micro-tailoring their stores to the neighborhoods will serve as a great way for cultivating intimate in-store experiences for their customers. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be meandering around a store looking for a new pot or pan with a glass of wine in his or her hand?

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