Target plays up value for the holiday season

NEW YORK, N.Y. – From a Broadway-style marketing campaign to more exclusive toys, Target wants to lure shoppers during the final critical months of the year. More importantly, though, it needs to convince shoppers that it’s the place for deals.

The Minneapolis-based retailer is heading into holidays a little bruised after seeing drops in customer traffic and a key revenue measure, and acknowledging that it didn’t push the second part of its “Expect More, Pay Less” slogan. It hopes emphasizing value and some of the promotions that have worked in the past will win back customers.

Since becoming CEO two years ago, Brian Cornell has been trying to reinvigorate Target’s cheap-chic status and focusing on categories like fashion, home furnishings and wellness items. But it stumbled with groceries and basics, and the trick for the holidays will be striking the right balance.

Despite the contentious presidential race, Cornell believes shoppers are more upbeat about their financial situation, given low unemployment, less-expensive foods and cheaper gas.

“I think there is a very positive mindset as we enter the holiday season,” Cornell said Tuesday. “That being the case, we think we’ve got to win through experience. We’ve got to have great product. We’ve got to make it really simple from a promotional stand point and make it easy to shop at Target.”

Here’s some of what shoppers will see:


About 60 per cent of Target’s marketing messages this holiday season will be about value, up about 20 per cent from last year. The retailer will repeat some of last year’s promotions like 10 Days of Deals, which offer distinct deals each day.

Beginning in mid-November, customers also can save $10 off a $50 purchase of grocery and home items, clothing, accessories and toys. In December, customers can save $25 on purchases of $100 or more. Target executives believe that broader promotions will help bring shoppers to the stores more often.

Target is unveiling Wondershop, which will offer more than 2,000 seasonal items that include ornaments under $3. And the stores will have more signs highlighting prices on product displays. It has also extended its free shipping promotion by a week, waiving the shipping fee for all digital orders from Tuesday through Jan. 1.


Target is increasing the number of items shoppers will find only at its stores. Among them: 1,800 new or exclusive toys, about 15 per cent more than last year.

Another exclusive is a 10-disc box set from singer Garth Brooks, which includes his new album and features the 25th anniversary edition of “Friends in Low Places.” The box set is available for pre-order now online and will be in Target stores Nov. 11, two weeks before the new album is available elsewhere.


Starting Nov. 1, Target will have 1,106 stores that will ship directly to online shoppers. That’s double from the current number that directly ship online orders to shoppers. That should speed up delivery, and Target will be able to fulfil more orders. Online shoppers also can pick up their orders at all of Target’s stores. The company expects 35 per cent of all online orders this holiday season will be collected at stores.


The big marketing focus will be “The Toycracker,” Target’s interpretation of the classic “The Nutcracker,” in which characters from its holiday toy list come to life through computer-generated animation. The eight-minute musical will air in two four-minute segments during the network broadcast premiere of Disney’s “Frozen” on Dec. 11. The theme will also be highlighted in the stores and online.

While 55 per cent of its holiday ad spending will derive from digital, Target says it’s increasing its holiday spending on TV by more than 20 per cent because that offers better engagement with shoppers, and is decreasing its spending on digital. Some 35 per cent of spending will go toward TV. The rest is on other sources.


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