Target’s inside app continually crowdsources design ideas

Discussion
Source: Studio Connect/iTunes Store
Jul 18, 2018
Tom Ryan

Target has quietly launched an invite-only “Studio Connect” app to enable designers to gather feedback from Target’s customers.

According to Fast Company, Studio Connect gives Target’s designers a way to explore ideas with the limited number of Target’s customers — approximately 600 on average — engaged with the app. The members can be segmented into subgroups, such as those with kids. A recent question posed on the Instagram-like feed, according to the report, read, “Mother’s Day is this weekend, if you could design a shirt with a message that celebrated how awesome moms are, what would it say?”

Designers tend to receive about 40 to 50 responses within 24 hours. Insights from the Mother’s Day query were used to come up with t-shirt slogans for next year’s holiday. For Target, Studio Connect helps designers gain feedback at various points in the creation process, and more quickly than with traditional methods, such as surveys or focus groups.

Customers participating earn points toward discounts and gift cards and can often try products early. But the main incentive is seeing their ideas come to life on Target’s selling floors. Customers are recruited via online research and receipt polls and have to be invited to join.

A job description on Target’s website describes Studio Connect as “a community of Target guests and designers working together to build purpose-driven owned brands and human-centric products and experiences. The trust and relationships created through Studio Connect continue to open up new opportunities to learn from and with our guests and is redefining how our teams put people first in all we do.”

Crowdsourcing efforts, whereby consumers weigh in on a product’s design, were initially led by startups, but have been used in recent years by Coke, Doritos, REI and others to brainstorm product or marketing ideas. But whereas most other campaigns are a one-off, Target is crowdsourcing its continual feedback process.

Writing for Business Insider, Gregory Magana said Studio Connect could be used to improve localization efforts. “Expanding it by selecting new users based on potential store locations could allow Target to get a clear perspective on what specific areas want from a store and how customer preferences differ between locations,” he wrote.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the “Studio Connect” app a win-win for Target’s designers and participating customers? How would you rate crowdsourcing as a mechanism for design inspiration and feedback?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is the kind of innovation that retailers must employ in order to compete with Amazon."
"Win-Win! Yes! Beats the heck out looking at PAST sales and sell-through."
"When Target was all about cheap chic, this would have been a definite winner. Can they do it again?"

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6 Comments on "Target’s inside app continually crowdsources design ideas"


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Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

The key to engagement is connecting with customers, and Studio Connect takes this to a whole new level. What is intriguing about the concept is how Target has directly engaged designers with customers, even enabling segmentation. This is not only a win-win for design, but gives Target key insights into trends and how to curate assortments. Studio Connect is essentially a crowd sourced “focus group” on steroids which provides unique feedback not possible from analyzing sales. This is the kind of innovation that retailers must employ in order to compete with Amazon.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Crowdsourcing can definitely be a winner as long as the brand is really listening and the consumer is feeling the love. This concept has legs and I personally love the exclusivity here — as long as it resonates with the Target customer. Target has been moving in several directions over recent years so I am not as clear about the Target shopper and who she is. When Target was all about cheap chic, this would have been a definite winner. Can they do it again? I’ll give it my 2 cents and more.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Win-Win! Yes! Beats the heck out looking at PAST sales and sell-through. Future, forward-looking inputs by 600 or so Target customers is so far beyond dry, metric-driven analytics. Human inputs on this scale directed to Target designers encompass the subtleties and nuances designers seek to understand. A solid platform for customers to speak and retail designers to listen. This would have great fun in the days when I was a Design Director.

As for crowdsourcing, a different venue, not filtered for context, impacting the viability of understanding customer preference.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Any insight, especially from top customers in real-time, makes you more relevant.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Target is not focusing on their core competencies when so much is at stake. Finding and engaging possible customers with designers and crowdsourcing ideas does not build upon the billions of dollars which Target has invested in retail, their retail customers, and their needs. Instead of better focusing their online efforts, or finding another way to decrease OOSs, or increase customer service, Target has decided to focus resources on this? Where does the Target customer draw benefit from this investment? What would their shareholders say if this was one of Target’s highlights at their upcoming shareholder meeting? Will this drive their stock price up? Hmmmmmmm….

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

There is no substitute for consumer testing and feedback for designing products, marketing campaigns and customer-facing software. With the advent of advanced technology and mobile apps, crowdsourcing is displacing focus groups as a more cost effective and agile approach for customer feedback.

The Studio Connect crowdsourcing test group is a great way for an elite group of customers to feel important by influencing Target’s product and marketing decisions – oh, and BTW, they get extra discounts and perks too! Target benefits from a more agile product and marketing testing environment that is relatively inexpensive and increases engagement with a loyal base of customers. Zara used a key fashion forward store concept to turn around hot trends quickly by bubbling this info via store associates but the crowdsourcing technique used by Target seems a better way to not only get fast feedback but increase customer satisfaction … Bravo Targé!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is the kind of innovation that retailers must employ in order to compete with Amazon."
"Win-Win! Yes! Beats the heck out looking at PAST sales and sell-through."
"When Target was all about cheap chic, this would have been a definite winner. Can they do it again?"

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