There are many better things Target has done in terms of its integrated marketing plan that has helped the company in differentiating itself from its competitors such as Kmart and Wal-Mart.
Porter has defined three generic strategies to work or compete efficiently in the market.
Low cost strategy (Economies to scale)
Differentiation strategy (Brand or product differentiation)
Focus strategy (Continuous focus on one of above two strategies) (Porter, 2008)
In the case, Target has followed differentiation strategy throughout its marketing campaign. Differentiation element is continuously developed to build particular competitive edge over rivals such as Kmart and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, which focuses on low cost strategy, is the biggest player in the industry so competing in terms of achieving more economies than Wal-Mart is irrational.
Positioning of Target as a fast fashion brand differentiated itself from the traditional way of positioning on reliability. The mixing element of fast fashion in the cheap chic strategy worked best for Target as consumers do not consider Target as having a sole focus on bringing competitive products to the market regardless of quality. Following approach just helped in keeping price conscious consumers intact with Target as well.
The slogan of Target “expect more for less” gives the clear idea that target is not the brand that focuses solely on price. “Expect more for less” interpret that strategy is not about just providing cheap products as a word, but it puts its emphasis on value maximization.
The social marketing strategy of Target has helped it in gaining customers who preferably do not shop at discount stores. Image of being socially responsible gives sense to consumers that the company is responsible in terms of its conduct that in return derives satisfaction and a sense of trust in the organization. Corporate social responsibility is helpful in catching the attention of new customers as well as in retention of current clients (Vlachos et al., 2009).
Other strategies of doing traditional marketing through radio and print advertisement help organization in increasing its brand recognition among consumers. Similarly, Target company’s logo Bull’s eye is now recognizable by 97% of the people in the United States.
Recommendation about future strategies
Target has done quite well over the years in its integrated marketing department. Here are few recommendations for Target to be sustainable in future.
In 2008 recession, people preferences started shifting toward more on necessities and less on being updated with fashion. These choices forced Target to keep an inventory of needs as well. On the one side fashion or style, related items are sold and on the other hand Target is now offering grocery (Senauer, & Seltzer, 2010).
Target should focus on the strategy of differentiation that it was following because jumping into other total different sectors gives a look of being supermarket thus creating resemblance between brands and reducing point of differentiation.
The company should regain its old recognitions such as cheap chic and Tar-Zhay. As a business insider (2015) reported that a decade ago Target had such an image that people gave it the nick name of “Tar-Zhay” which is used for the upscale boutique (Business Insider, 2015).
Target competed against Wal-Mart with many strategies focusing on the differentiation of brand. Here are some core differences stated.
Excitement versus Price
The target image is of fun and creativity with the adaptability of diversity. All of the elements give a fresh look about values of Target. Wal-Mart image is associated with cheap prices that do not bring any excitement among consumers. Target emphasizes more on the availability of great designs than on competitive prices. Ferguson Values (2014) stated about what is the definition of design in the eye of Target “Awesome designs are energetic, fun and bring about excitement, these designs should be in every person’s buying reach”.
Diversity versus Uniformity
Target is more diversity oriented company, and it places significant efforts to bring the latest and diversified trends of fashion in its shelves. Teams of Target merchandiser go across the world to find out latest trends and designs in fashion. Target is also having a collaboration with many known designers of the world such as Giannulli, Jean Paul Gaultier and Mossimo.
Wal-Mart offerings are of uniform patterns as it cannot bring diversity because of its cheapest cost focus. People do not look at Wal-Mart as a supplier of exclusive products but as economical supplier products.
Tweaking marketing message by shifting its focus more toward value for money and less on trends is not a good step for Target. Here are several reasons why being more focused on providing value than on latest trends can hurt Target.
Target image survival is being in fresh and bringing latest fashion designs. Value oriented approach is likely to hurt its image of being Tar-Zhay (Upscale high fashion boutique)
Wal-Mart provides the most value for money if Target gets into same line then particular target market of Target would get lost.
Shifting of focus in marketing is going to result in image lost for Target and all of the efforts it has done in the past to foster that different picture.
Business Insider. (2015). How Target forgot its formula for success. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from http://www.businessinsider.com/why-target-forgot-its-formula-for-success-2015-3
Ferguson Values. (2014). How Target Differentiates Itself From Walmart. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from http://fergusonvalues.com/2014/02/how-target-differentiates-itself-from-walmart/
Porter, M. E. (2008). Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. Simon and Schuster.
Senauer, B., & Seltzer, J. (2010). The changing face of food retailing. Choices,25(4).
Vlachos, P. A., Tsamakos, A., Vrechopoulos, A. P., & Avramidis, P. K. (2009). Corporate social responsibility: attributions, loyalty, and the mediating role of trust. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 37(2), 170-180.