Can local artists help Target create community support?

Discussion
Artist Michael Mullan's mural in Burlington, VT Target store - Photo: Target
Aug 20, 2019
Tom Ryan

Target is partnering with local artists in its new small-format stores to support community building. The executions range from murals behind registers to installations in parking lots.

“From Burlington, Vermont, to San Diego, California (and lots of places in between), we’re opening new stores in communities that boast unique cultures, histories and identities,” said Target in a press release. “We’re designing each store to reflect our local guests and their needs, including specially tailored product assortments. And to say, ‘thank you’ for welcoming us into the neighborhood, we often commission local art that sparks joy and inspiration as soon as guests arrive at their new Target.”

So far, Target has collaborated with nearly 30 local artists for pieces at 60 stores.

As part of the process, members of Target’s properties team, including experts in architecture, construction and real estate, research each new store’s neighborhood before construction begins. The marketing team then works with Target Creative, the retailer’s in-house creative agency, to support the local artist, helping them refine a design, select the right materials and install the final work.

Can local artists help Target create community support?
Artist Rather Severe’s work at a Portland, OR Target location – Photo: Target

“Art in all forms, designed to be a treat for the eyes and a reflection of the neighborhood,” said Target. “That includes outdoorsy illustrations in bold shades of green in Burlington, wistful ocean-inspired shapes in regal blue and pink in Honolulu, and Nordic-style etchings that celebrate the heritage of Target’s hometown, Minneapolis.” 

Locally made art has tended to find a home inside locally-owned restaurants, bars, bookstores and coffee shops. Some local coffee shops and bars rotate art pieces to continually refresh their environment. Artists often sell their art and the establishment takes a cut of sales.

Though less common, some other national chains have also been collaborating with local artists.

Starbucks’ locations increasingly feature works of art created from nearby muralists, printmakers and woodcarvers to both differentiate each location and tap the local vibe. Apple, Tiffany and Foot Locker are among chains that have featured customized art from locals in flagship locations.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is partnering with local artists to the success of Target’s small-market locations? Are such community activations more important for national chains in urban than suburban markets?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I love it! What a great way for Target to partner with the local community and to show that they are not a cookie-cutter big box store. "
"Giving individual stores a personality at the point of entry and exit can help elicit a strong positive feeling at vital points of the shopping experience."
"The national brands often struggle to do “local” well. Target’s local artist initiative will help them endear themselves to the local community."

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12 Comments on "Can local artists help Target create community support?"


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Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I see partnering with local artists as excellent community collaboration, but other than the good feeling it will give few people and the press Target is receiving, it will do very little if anything for business. The sad truth is that most customers won’t even notice. Those that do will take a look and move on. We are in a world today where retailers are experimenting with new ideas and concepts to help themselves stand aside from their competition, and that’s wise. In time we’ll know what is working and what is not. Perhaps if Target were to set up a small department in the store allowing customers to see and purchase some of the local artists’ work, it would not only be a good idea but would help customers take more significant notice of the local talent and how Target is supporting it.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Just a one word response: AWESOME.

Can’t wait to see what they do in Miami!

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

The more that national chains can tailor their stores to integrate the image of the brand with the local flavor and its unique culture and identity, the greater they can be embraced and identified as part of that community. Localized assortments have been in the works for years, extending that mindset to store design and visual merchandising can be winning move. While the “what” here is clear, executing on the “how” will determine its true success.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Giving individual stores a personality at the point of entry and exit can help elicit a strong positive feeling at vital points of the shopping experience. Target won’t want to tinker too much with its in-store assortment (though a robust local section is intriguing), but tying into the community at key memory points of the customer journey will be a differentiator from other chains that might have a more insulating impact than it would seem on the surface.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Integrating into the local culture is absolutely the right thing to do, and commissioning local artists to help create a store atmosphere that is consistent with the local ethos is a great start. However, the key part of the comments from Target is “local assortments.” One-time art installations are easy; consistently relevant and localized assortments requires commitment and perseverance. Only time will tell if Target’s local assortments hit the mark.

Lauren Goldberg
BrainTrust

I love it! What a great way for Target to partner with the local community and to show that they are not a cookie-cutter big box store. It’s a nice community relations and PR story for them. That being said, I don’t think that the success of the small-format Targets will be due to this or that they will be able to measure any incremental revenue. But coupled with localized assortments and an improved shopping experience, these stores should be a win for Target.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

It is a soft touch to gain better/more positioning in the market with the consumer. People will love it, and then, within a couple of months, no one sees it because it is old news. I’m not trying to be the critic here, far from it. But competitive retail is not static and the grandness of this presentation will require they have a continual plan of constant renewal.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Love this concept but hope it will not be a one-and-done thing. Target should find a way to keep it in front of the community. Stage exhibits in the parking lot. Have art fairs, etc. For my 2 cents.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Anytime a large national (or international) brand can connect on a local level, they need to take advantage of it. I’ve studied large national brands versus local retailers. Done right, the local retailer not only can survive big-box and national competition, but they can thrive. They take advantage of the local community. This is a great advantage. The national brands often struggle to do “local” well. Target’s local artist initiative will help them endear themselves to the local community.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I always say that you could drop me in any mall in the U.S. and I wouldn’t be able to tell you which town I was in.

It’s hard to be excited about shopping in the same genetic box, but this is great. All the shopping benefits of a traditional Target store with a uniquely local flavor. It’s about time retailers started celebrating the richness of our unique communities. Way to go, Target!

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
First, I love seeing quality art anywhere and any time. Especially when I see brilliant work by youngsters as I’ve seen in a couple of airports. I will almost miss a flight for that! That said, Target (or any sponsor) needs to be very clear on why it is doing this. If it’s intended to increase traffic and sales for itself, it will undoubtedly fail. Art Suriano is right about that. If it’s unselfishly about acknowledging and benefiting the surrounding community, then all is good. That good will come back to the store on its own accord; it’s a karma thing. One thing that is often overlooked with similar intiatives is the failure to recognize the creator of the creation. Hopefully there will be a plaque with the name and picture of the artist and a bio paragraph. That is just one way to ensure the energy and light of the initiaitve is reflected out into the community. It’s not about Target, it’s about the community. So far it looks like Target gets it. Bravo.
C Davis
Guest
25 days 18 hours ago

This will get Target good PR for each store opening, but nothing more unless they do what others have suggested around promoting the artist. They are simply copying what Trader Joe’s does in all of their stores. Perhaps they could host a parking lot street fair of sorts to promote local artists so as to not disrupt the assortment/logistics inside the store.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I love it! What a great way for Target to partner with the local community and to show that they are not a cookie-cutter big box store. "
"Giving individual stores a personality at the point of entry and exit can help elicit a strong positive feeling at vital points of the shopping experience."
"The national brands often struggle to do “local” well. Target’s local artist initiative will help them endear themselves to the local community."

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