Target Pushes the Threshold: A Conversation with Julie Guggemos, VP

Julie GallegosMinneapolis, Minnesota based big-box retailer Target continues to rollout its new home decor Private Brand Threshold and the brand continues to gain traction in store and to build a credible point of home fashion differentiation for the retailer.

This past week we featured the brand as one of the brands in the series Fifty2 – The MPB Project

This past summer Julie Guggemos, Vice President, Product Design and Development, was thrilled to debut the brand for the first time.

“We know how important great design is to our guest,” she said. “And to maintain Target’s style leadership position, we thought it was time to elevate our own assortment.”

The brand prides itself on personality, exceptional quality and outstanding design, the collection has been slowly trickling into stores since last fall and will be completely rolled out this month. The official Target blog “A Bullseye View” stopped by the Spring 2013 Threshold preview and talked with Julie once again about the collection. Check it out below.

threshold spring 1How has your team prepared for Threshold’s big launch?
We’ve more than doubled our team in the last three years in order to dedicate designers and engineers to focus on every Threshold product. When you look through the assortment, you’ll see this reflected in the quality. The team spends a ton of time researching and interacting with the guest to understand her needs and wants. How does she shop? How does she use dinnerware with her family? How does she entertainWhat kind of attributes is she looking for in a product?. We find solutions to those questions and everyday problems through product features. We made sure to build in the most important features into products throughout the entire Threshold collection.

Can you share a good example of that?
There are a ton, but let’s start with dinnerware. We asked women many questions about their dinnerware—our goal was to redesign ceramics and porcelain. But the unanimous response was, “You know what? We don’t love anything that’s breakable.” Moms with kids want dinnerware pieces that are unbreakable and dishwasher-friendly, but also beautiful and look great for adult meals too. So we developed an assortment of dinnerware that looks like ceramic and porcelain. We added a lot of details—scalloped edges, ribbed and beaded textures, beautiful colors and patterns—so that she can integrate durable Threshold plates with china or designer pieces she already owns. And now she doesn’t have to worry about kids accidentally dropping them on the floor. This is one of the categories I’m most proud of.

Threshold spring 4What other areas are you most excited about?
The bathroom assortment—I think the biggest highlight is the elevated quality and texture. You’re not going to find this anywhere, not even in department stores. It is just fabulous. Everybody needs bath basics, so we wanted to make sure all of our basics—towels, shower hooks and curtains, bath rugs—were best in class. Then we incorporated fashion elements to make each feel one-of-a-kind. We conducted extensive guest research to find out what attributes are most important to her. Take towels, for example. We just thought she wanted density in her towels, but they also have to be absorbent, super soft, bleach-friendly and benzoyl peroxide-safe. So we built those attributes into the Threshold towels and they’re just $6.99. From a value standpoint, they are totally unprecedented.

What qualities did you want the Threshold brand to embody?
Quality, attention to detail and guest insights make up the core of Threshold. We didn’t want to design an item just because it was pretty; we wanted to design an item that was pretty and functional and had the attributes that were important to our guest.

What Spring 2013 Threshold pieces will you incorporate into your own home?
I’ll definitely pick up our window treatments—especially the ombre curtains. I already have a bunch of the textural towels in all the bathrooms in my house. And I’m also going to buy a full collection of the melamine plates.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.