This week industry trade magazine Ad Age featured a great look inside the Target PD&D team that is driving differentiation through private brand. Pay attention to Brian Cornell’s interactions and perspective – this is where the change will happen that will drive growth and keep him employed.
Inside the Design Lab That’s Getting Target’s Tar-Zhay Back
On the executive floor of Target’s Minneapolis headquarters, near the kitchen and common area, stands a showroom stocked with back-to-college linens, plaid throws, oversized candy canes, furniture, stretch denim, and much, much more. As employees browse the display of items the retailer thinks will fly off store shelves, Target’s product design and development team artfully primps and styles the space, located on the 26th floor. They’re readying it for a walk-through with CEO Brian Cornell, who was caught peeking at the merchandise earlier in the week.
“[Brian] is incredibly passionate about product,” said Julie Guggemos, senior VP-product design and development. “He is naturally curious. He’s always walking the floor.”
The showroom with new products flowing through every six weeks is one of a number of ways the CEO, who joined last August, is keeping everyone from top brass to marketing and public relations clued-in to the new direction of the brand. Over the past year, Mr. Cornell has been trying to reenergize the retailer that once defined affordable chic with an instantly recognizable design aesthetic, but was caught off guard and derailed by the rapid growth of e-commerce. Same-store sales recovered after the recession with a 3% rise in 2011, and then lost ground. Last year, Target’s same-store sales were up 1.3%.
“They hit that wall,” said David Schick, managing director at equity research group Stifel, referring to Target. “They were running out of U.S. growth and Target was behind in the e-commerce migration. They had to do a lot all at once: stop opening stores, enhance e-commerce and at the same time, reenergize merchandising.”