Once J.C. Penney made headlines with their risky ‘true value’ pricing strategy, many called it an end to the department store era. It’s not a surprising conclusion as it is hard to think of a department store brand that can be labeled successful right now; so many once glamorous brands that have been reduced to no service, over-cluttered sales floors, that in some cases highlight an obvious shortage of cleaning supplies.
Well evidently somebody forgot to tell the people running some of the most innovative big brands around that the department store strategy was dead.
Target has embraced the spirit of the department store with The Shops at Target concept. In addition to the 25 stores that have rolled out expanded Apple displays, the fashionable Big Box brand has teamed up with unique specialty boutiques that have started selling a wide variety of limited edition products. The Shops at Target will initially include boutiques such as the Polka Dog Bakery from Boston, The Privet House – seller of vintage furniture in Greenwich Connecticut, and The Cos Bar – seller of body products in Aspen, along with many more. So think of this as the idea of the department store with a Target flair.
As with most startlingly clever ideas, it makes a whole lot of sense, if only after somebody else has thought of it. Considering the success that they have had leveraging this type of strategy with various designers for their retail lines, expanding the idea to the rest of the store seems like the best next step.
Of course Target is not necessarily about to become a department store. Checkout is still at a central location and employees will not specialize in just a single category of product.
It seems to me that maybe Target is just doing a better version of the department store.
Mixing Small Brand Innovation & Big Brand Power
Target is not the only big brand to open its shelves to its smaller cousins. Sephora made a similar move when it started carrying product from Lavanila Laboratories; giving the small brand its first real chance to compete with Chanel, P&G, and Estée Lauder. [Profiled here in a previous article]
It appears that some larger brands have seen the opportunity in leveraging the innovation of smaller companies with their own big muscle footprints and brand equity. If this strategy proves successful it could continue into a full-blown trend that could offer a whole new pool of potential customers for boutique stores and a strong injection of revival for the established brands.
In a time when Toms are flying off the shelves fast enough to be copied by any brand that can manage to sow, it is hard to underestimate the power of letting consumers feel good about who is winning their business. [For those of you who do not know, Toms are the trendy, low-price shoes that will donate a pair of shoes to in-need children for every pair that is purchased. One for One]
After years of press declaring the end of the mom and pop store and ‘main street’ at the hands of the evil big box, this feelgood campaign from Target not only brings in innovative product but the lends the idea of a giant offering the little guy a helping hand.
Tags: Customer Experience, customer satisfaction, J.C. Penney, Macy's, Target