The Church of Target
I'm continually intrigued by all things Target (a.k.a. Tar-zhay). My latest oohs and aahs were over their Easter signage...they've created a campaign around these so-ugly-they're-cute (and slightly noir) little bunny characters and carried them over into plush items you can actually purchase. Genius! Anyway, it goes without saying that their merchandising and product design blows all other discount chains--and even some department stores--out of the water. They have a keen eye for items and collections that appeal to their core customer's aesthetic sensibility, and you can't beat the prices with a stick. What a concept.
Over the weekend I stepped in to check out their latest Mizrahi pieces. I wanted to see if they looked as nice in person as they did on the stylized photos from their website (they didn't, exactly, but still a good value). What disappointed me the most was to see rack after rack of Mossimo women's clothing on clearance....makes me think a product at Target must have been a real dog to move so slowly, even at the clearance price. So I took a closer look. Turns out the items were not offensively ugly -- they were on trend, meant for younger girls, probably late teens through early 20s...but why were they not selling, when similar styles are all the rage at stores like Urban Outfitters, H&M, even Old Navy?
I think it's a merchandising blind spot. Target's history is steeped in department store tradition (they did own Marshall Fields) and they have tried to create a more upscale shopping experience than other discounters -- but, sadly, their apparel is still merchandised a-la Wal-Mart or KMart. Yes, I think they have pictures of models on the walls. But not enough to inspire or instruct the average shopper on how to put pieces together. If they wish to do well on their trendier, trickier offering, they must kick their merchandising up a notch and have their style mavens educate the in-store customer a bit more, as they have through their website and TV commercials.