Target Goes on ‘International Flight of Fashion’

Discussion
Jan 27, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Target has carved out a point of difference from other discounters and retail stores with its cheap chic line of clothes, accessories and home furnishings and it plans to continue doing that. The only difference consumers might see is that some of the designer fashions the retailer will display will be here today and gone tomorrow in Target stores.


Next Wednesday, Target will launch a line of clothing from the British designer Luella Bartley under a strategy and campaign dubbed “international flights of fashion.”


What makes this different from other designer launches is that Ms. Bartley’s trendy line of clothes will be in Target stores only through April 30. Other designers will follow suit in Target stores with a big announcement and limited engagement on store racks.


The idea, according to Reuters‘ Emily Kaiser, is to get designers in-and-out of stores quickly to generate a sense of urgency among shoppers.


Consumers, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Mark Friedman, are looking for a little excitement in fashion and not getting it at most retail stores.


In a note to investors, Mr. Friedman wrote, “Overall themes are not very new and give the customer little reason to shop this early in the season. Warmer weather in certain regions is helping but generally this is not a good sign for spring.”


According to Reuters, Target’s ad campaign for the Bartley line makes clear that it will only be available for a limited time. It comes at a time when Target’s larger rival, Wal-Mart, is looking to go more upscale with its own fashion offerings.


Target appears to be taking a page from H&M, which has carved its own cheap chic niche with an ability to get designers on store shelves more quickly than competing retailers.


So-called fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M, writes Ms. Kaiser, “have trained their customers to buy now instead of waiting for clothes to go on sale.”


Target will have an advantage with its limited time designer strategy, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group, because it already has a strong reputation with fashion conscious consumers. Mr. Cohen pointed out that 54 percent of consumers who shop in mall stores for clothing also shop at discounters.


Target’s reputation in fashion means lines such as Ms. Bartley’s will be accepted as hip, even if Americans do not recognize the brand name, said Wendy Liebmann, founder and president of WSL Strategic Retail.


“It just enhances the buzz, the fact that she’s not very well known,” she said.


Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Target’s “international flights of fashion” strategy? Will apparel retailers need to adopt the fast-fashion
approach to remain competitive in the years ahead?

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Target Goes on ‘International Flight of Fashion’"


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Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 28 days ago
This is a great strategy, with elements of the treasure hunt, limited availability (exclusiveness) and exotic newness. It will further solidify Target’s edge with the younger crowd. I’m researching a story right now on SuperTarget, about the grocery side, and a lot of comments there are split. People see an internal identity crisis over pricing strategies, a problem with stockouts, and young and inexperienced buyers who are moved in and out of jobs too quickly. Since apparently some grocery buyers are switched in and out of buying jobs in fashion and other departments, this could prove really interesting. The young grocery buyers are seen as creative and innovative, or naive and arrogant — I suspect we all are all of that in our younger years. I wouldn’t be surprised if this idea came out of one of the younger team members; if not, I suspect it will be supported by them with enthusiasm anyway. People tell me Target is way too conscious of Wal-Mart, almost (almost!) to the point of unhealthy obsession, and that it… Read more »
Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 28 days ago

Target knows what every other apparel retailer knows — fashion is fleeting, especially among younger consumers. You ride the wave as long as you can then paddle out to another one.

This is the same philosophy that guides their Global Bazaar home goods section in January and February. It’s an in-and-out business and highly seasonal in nature. By the way, Target is also doing this in its regular housewares section. They were the first discounters to take on designer names and change them on a regular basis.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 28 days ago

With many retailers and analysts complaining about consumers waiting until the last minute to do Christmas shopping because they were waiting for sales, Target’s tactic is an interesting way to change that attitude for their shoppers. If the target is young, fashion conscious shoppers who realize that they will lose an opportunity to purchase something if they wait too long, this could be a very effective way of generating traffic. As with anything else, it won’t work with all consumers, but it certainly has a good chance of working with Target’s consumers and will be an interesting experiment.

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
15 years 28 days ago

This global and on-the-go strategy is a good one. It speaks to the spirit of the fashion conscious and the attention deficit disorder generation of young consumers that get bored quickly. I would expect to see more of this energy from retailers in the future.

Lauren Adler
Guest
Lauren Adler
15 years 28 days ago

Target’s strategy reminds me of Costco’s “treasure hunt,” a strategy that has been very effective for Costco. Not only does adding new and unexpected merchandise for short periods of time create urgency on the part of buyers to get into the store to take advantage of the offer, it drives them back to the store multiple times to check out what’s new. It’s a brilliant idea that I would expect to increase the sales of other items. While you’re at Target picking up the latest fashion, perhaps you need more shampoo to go with it. Instead of making a trip to the drugstore by your house, you’ll buy it while you’re at Target.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 28 days ago

Another great example of “Chez Target” at its best. They can pull this off better than any other mass retailer in the country.

To the second part of the question, will apparel retailers need to adopt a “line of the month” strategy? Depends on what their positioning is. If it’s Abercrombie or Ann Taylor, probably not. They have a look and a consumer that is loyal to it. For other fashion retailers with less defined images, this might be a good way to go.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 28 days ago

The name of the designer generally isn’t important. The fast-fashion strategy is healthy. The 2 keys will be whether the clothes are coveted and the quantities kept reasonable. I’m sure that if the designer’s line sells out quickly, she’ll be brought back soon with other designs. Target wants to prevent people from thinking “the store is a bore.” This description definitely fits most places.

Yatish Ballolla
Guest
Yatish Ballolla
15 years 25 days ago

Apparel retailers are routinely trying to replace merchandise from one season with that of another, and that ties-up merchandise planning, budgeting and buying resources. Apart from being a differentiator, Target’s strategy will be able to break the seasonality by short-term exposure of one design label after another.

The store manager can do with the flexibility it offers on influencing price, placements and promotions and ultimately, the urgency it induces in the shopper to buy now rather than later. The shopper, on the other hand, will hopefully appreciate the much demanded novelty.

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