Is Target crazy to swap granola bars for candy at its checkouts?
Even with the proliferation of self-checkouts and the attention-diverting use of mobile devices making impulse buys in the checkout line less of a sure thing, the front-end is still a big source of soda, candy and magazine sales for many grocers. Target, however, is turning their product assortment at the registers into a statement of another sort — one that promotes the chain’s newfound focus on health and wellness.
According to The New York Times, Target has announced that it will be replacing the unhealthy but familiar selection of sodas, sugary sports drinks and candy bars available near the checkout counters with healthier fare, such as granola bars. The Times indicates that Target plans to switch out the assortment in 30 test stores to figure out how much junk food should go.
Fortune reports that popular granola bar brand, KIND, will appear at the checkout, as well as snacks from Target’s natural/organic private label, Simply Balanced.
The choice to pull junk food from the checkouts is but one of the chain’s attempts to court the health-conscious shopper, and to show a broader commitment to health overall, in its ongoing attempt to rebrand. It comes alongside an announcement that the company will be providing free FitBit activity trackers to 300,000 employees as part of a program to incentivize employee wellness.
Source: Target – “Made to Matter” collection of wellness-oriented brands
The question of whether a shopper looking for a chocolate bar would be as likely to grab a healthy snack on the way out of the store, or instead forgo an impulse buy entirely, may be up in the air. But Target is promoting the health-related changes in the context of social responsibility as much as potential profit.
"There’s both a huge business opportunity here and a bit of a moral imperative," said Christina Hennington, SVP of merchandising at a press briefing, quoted in Fortune. "Our ultimate goal is to improve the health of the nation."
The chain has named wellness as one of the four categories it is now focusing on, the others being style, kids and baby products.
Target has also recently entertained other shakeups geared towards establishing itself as a retailer focused on health and wellness. In May, the chain told a few big food suppliers that it intended to reduce the promotion of some national brands in favor of smaller natural and organic brands that would appeal more to shoppers skeptical of the big CPG companies.
Earlier in September, Target announced that it would be ending its "Take Charge of Education" charity program, which has raised $1 billion since 2010, and would move its donation money towards wellness-oriented charitable endeavors.
- Target, Developing Healthier Habits, Hands Workers FitBits – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
- Target may ditch junk food at the counter – Fortune
- Target may remove big food from store shelves – RetailWire
- Will ending school charity be an epic branding fail for Target? – RetailWire
Will Target’s change of assortment at the register benefit the retailer and make it stand out as a wellness-oriented chain? Are there any potential downsides to Target’s promotion of wellness?