“I love Target.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those words from a female I know: my friends, coworkers, aunts, and women I’ve met through our studies. I’ve also read bloggers who describe the Target stores as a place to “recharge,” a “mom trip out,” and “female crack.” What is it about this retailer that keeps so many women coming back? After all, it seems like just a store that sells everyday merchandise (everything from toasters to gift wrap). But, the shopping experience seems to offer women something much more. Here are a few insights on why women love Target:
1. Indulgence veiled by practicality
Women often feel the need to justify their shopping trips with sensible motives. When women go to Target, they have a good reason to be there, but they also get to treat themselves too. (I’m a little embarrassed to say that I do this all the time!) One female blogger said she uses milk as her excuse to her husband for making a Target run. However, she knows this trip also entails sipping a latte from the in-store Starbucks while browsing in the shoe aisle. Her excuse eliminates the guilt of taking a little time (and money) to splurge on herself. What makes this possible is the appealing mix of merchandise Target offers. Millions of women love it, including the CEO of Neiman Marcus, Karen Katz. In an interview by Fast Company, she named Target as one of her favorite places to shop saying, “I love Target. They have a really beautiful way of blending inexpensive fashion with housewares and laundry detergent…”
2. Store environment
Many retailers strip back on costs, including store design, to offer customers low prices on their goods. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it can impact shoppers’ moods. Because bad lighting, cramped aisles, and cluttered merchandise have left me feeling stressed out and grumpy in the past, I’ve found myself becoming more loyal to stores with well designed environments. Target clearly puts a lot of effort into making their stores exciting for guests and a comfortable place to shop. On a dedicated section of their website, Target highlights their “focus on design” stating that they “concentrate on aesthetics…[and] know that things like artistic seasonal displays can turn a weekend shopping trip into a fun family outing.” How Target chooses to design and present its stores make women feel like they can go there to escape for an hour.
3. Quality at comparable prices
We’re all trying to save money these days, or at least, find a great value. Many women feel good about the prices they find at Target because they perceive them to be comparable to other low priced retailers. I’ve compared several items myself and found that Target’s prices came within two cents of Wal-Mart’s. Target also seems to deliver on the perception of high quality through consistent branding. Whether it be their television spots, print ads, or store environment, Target has communicated a brand image that is sleek, modern, and clever. Women used to call it “Tar-jay” because it sounded more upscale, and their heritage of smart, stylish women who shop there continues today.
You may be thinking that these three things aren’t entirely unique to Target. And, you’re right. But in my opinion, Target creates a really powerful offering for women because it provides all three of these things at once which makes practical and emotional sense to many women. Surely this brand stewardship that has remained smart and consistent for years has led to its successes today.