“Nothing is Sacred, Everything is on the Table” at Target – Part 2

Target front 2

As I said yesterday in my first post, with an understanding of their focus areas, target customer, opportunities in grocery and the “Nothing is Sacred, Everything is on the Table” attitude, I have a few questions, thoughts and challenges…

My family and I are the “demanding enthusiasts”. We love a Saturday at Target, so I am in my local store every week, shopping, exploring and, of course, tracking the evolving private brands portfolio.

Target, it’s time to re-assess the entire private brand portfolio. Dive deep and use your new found focus to reevaluate and ask some hard questions.

Is the Target private brand portfolio designed to deliver the demanding enthusiast?
Answered thoroughly, this question will kick off a body of work that will radically transform private brands at Target.

How are your private brands engaging the growing percentage of Hispanic customers?
Do you need a brand that authentically speaks directly to Hispanic customers or can an existing brand meet that need? Are you creating Hispanic private brand products for Hispanics (acculturated or unacculturated) or are you creating them for suburbanites?

Does your private brand portfolio enable “speed and simplicity?”
The Target private brand portfolio is very large, consisting of more than 30 labels. Are they simplifying the shopping experience? Or is the shear number of brands creating a complexity that makes them difficult, if not impossible, to manage? Is this creating confusion and slowing time to market?

Are your brands solving customer problems or simply filling merchandising needs?
Traditional private brand portfolios are composed of tiers and categories, an architecture that makes it very simple for merchants to understand, and create price progression and increase penetration in traditional categories. Unfortunately, it has little or nothing to do with what customers want or need. Whose needs are your brands fulfilling?

Are your brands arbitrarily restricted to merchandising categories or divisions?
The size and complexity of the big box often means private brand portfolios are restricted by organizational structure or category definitions. Simply put, brands or groups of brands are built for SVPs and their corresponding teams (fashion brands for the Fashion SVP or grocery brands are created for the Grocery SVP). Although organizationally expedient, it is not customer focused. Imagine the brands Target could create if it threw off the shackles and solved customer problems.

This question becomes particularly relevant when you look at it through the lens of the priority areas: Style, Baby, Kids, Wellness. How effectively are your brands competing in each area?

Style: Can style brands be leveraged to bring style to food? Can brands like Threshold and Mossimo be used to speak to specific customers or occasions? Perhaps Threshold appetizers and canapés for parties and celebrations or Mossimo fruit waters as fashion accessories.

Baby: Baby products are split among fashion brands and Up&Up. I realize Up&Up is a multi-billion dollar brand, but I cannot help but wonder how well it engages moms. Does she love the brand or simply trust Target? Does she ever wonder why bleach, copy paper and baby formula are in the same brand and does it scare her? Could Circo be repositioned to be a lifestyle solutions brands for Mom and grow to include all the relevant Up&Up sku’s? Just imagine the cross merchandising and promotional opportunities. Or do you need a new brand to give Mom the ultimate Target solution?

Kids: Is kids an expression of fashion or an expression of growing up? How do food, toys, clothing and HBC all work together to help development and be Mom’s favorite trusted expression of Target?

Wellness: How does wellness extend across the entire store? How does wellness become a unique and ownable expression of Target and not simply an imitation of Walgreens or CVS? The answer echoes the questions above. Is Up&Up really the brand solution for wellness products? Should Wellness at Target be an expression of Style? Can Simply Balanced be repositioned as a lifestyle solutions brand that includes everything from vitamins to work out clothes and yoga mats? Or does Target need a new brand that is the ultimate expression of Wellness at Target?

Are your grocery private brands an expression of the Target brand or simply copies of supermarket private brands?
Although Market Pantry, Archer Farms, Sutton & Dodge, Simply Balanced, etc. are “as good as or better than” most competitors’ offerings, they are still traditional private labels. They reflect a private brand portfolio architecture that is virtually identical to mainstream grocers: tiered brands and category brands.

Market Pantry = Great Value = Safeway = Kroger
Archer Farms = Sam’s Choice = Safeway Select = Private Selections

Where are the compelling brands that reinforce and build on the Target brand? Where is the style? Where is the fun?

And where are the collabs? Borrow the collaboration model from the fashion side and give me another reason to come in. How about Franklin Barbecue, Husk & Sean Brock, Eddie Huang, Bouchon Bakery, Wylie Dufresne in and out collections and pop up restaurants – the best of fashion and food.

Where is the Target Brand? Where is the Bullseye?
The Bullseye is an iconic mark that Target customers love, yet its expression on product is limited to random gift cards and occasional plush Bullseye dogs. Let your customers express their love with a small collection of limited edition, super hip Bullseye products. Your brand is every bit as powerful and compelling as Burberry, Coke, Harley Davidson and Apple, yet there is no way to express that. Where are style products: hats, shirts, pens, handbags and beach towels that allow me to proclaim my love for Target?

Now is the time to do the hard work, to make the hard decisions, to reinvent the private brand portfolio. It’s time to imagine a set of private brands that uniquely bring Target to life, brands that speak directly to the Target customer and not only redefine private brand but also redefine retail.

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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.