Time to Sell More Toys at Target

Discussion
Feb 28, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Target is looking to make its mark in the specialty toy market with a new in-store boutique the chain has dubbed “Time to Play!”.


According to a company release, the new section will focus on educational and other toys normally found in specialty shops for kids between 18 months and seven years of age.


“Playtime is a crucial part of every child’s development,” said Keri Jones, vice president, Target. “Time to Play!” offers our guests a broad assortment of specialty toys in the convenience and value of a Target and positions our toy department as the ultimate one-stop destination.”


In addition to branded items such as Breyer horses, Schleich figurines, Klutz books, Only Hearts Club dolls and Science Wiz kits, Target will also roll out its own line of high-quality toys and related products under the PlayWonder brand.


The collection is targeted to kids between two and five and it includes “furniture, room decor, and coordinating toys as well as themed play environments for children such as kitchenettes, playhouses and grocery markets,” according to the company.


Moderator’s Comment: What do you think about Target’s “Time to Play!” boutique strategy? Do you see similar approaches working in other areas of the
store?

George Anderson – Moderator

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14 Comments on "Time to Sell More Toys at Target"


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robert spizman
Guest
robert spizman
14 years 11 months ago

Target has tested this concept and probably has seen triple digit sales increases for educational toys. When you re-invent the category, not only do you make the department a destination and a point of differentiation, you lift sales opportunities exponentially. There are a few retailers shifting to this concept – the cutting edge ones!!!!

Kristin Anderson
Guest
Kristin Anderson
14 years 11 months ago

I think it’s brilliant, and was quite impressed when I saw the debut in January. It’s a great point of differentiation that will have particularly strong appeal in small markets, where access to these types of toys are more limited. (Also likely where Target has to work harder to draw share of wallet from Wal-Mart.) It’s a perfect brand extension for them, and can be undertaken in a relatively low risk way.

Of course, I am a mom of 3 young ones, so my perspective may be skewed by my delight at not having to order from catalogs for birthday party gifts.

Mark Hunter
Guest
Mark Hunter
14 years 11 months ago

For Target, this is a logical extension of their strategy to create unique shopping experiences within different categories. Finding a way to connect with young moms is not easy due to the level of price competition in categories such as diapers, kid clothes, etc. By staking claim to a new niche category, Target has a chance to further define itself as the lifestyle retailer. If this strategy works, I’m sure Target will expand it to other categories that have undergone the same type of price/selection erosion the way the toy category has.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Mark is totally on the money. It’s differentiation, and getting more of those attractive young upscale shoppers into the stores, where, presumably, they will buy more and cement a stronger relationship. Good move.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 11 months ago

This in-store boutique concept seems to be the “in thing” of late. Those retailers who can combine the boutique feel and customer experience with a higher level of service, look to be differentiating themselves. But, unfortunately, like all good things, the store within a store or boutique or marketplace can become very commonplace. So the successful retailer must always be looking for new and innovative approaches and must always listen to their customers.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 11 months ago
Great comments, but I am afraid I am not quite as enthusiastic as some. There are two elements in this issue, in my view: Is the strategy sound? …And how important and difficult will implementation be? Though I see all of your points about how it seems such a good strategy, I would caution that, in my view, its strength or weakness as a strategy rests on the role the toy sub-store will ACTUALLY play in affecting consumer behavior. Will it have a synergistic affect or will it have an isolated effect? How? Why? Apparently, Target has tested this. We have seen dozens of tests conducted like those Target has probably conducted that indicate very positive results; but there were unseen factors contributing to these results that were not duplicated in full roll-out, and the experiment disappointed. Because a strategy SEEMS strong doesn’t mean it is; because a strategy has HAD good test results doesn’t mean the roll-out will. It depends on how well Target understands the very complex factors in play, and how well… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Last week, Target wanted to do more food in their stores. This week, it’s toys. Next week, it will be something else. It sounds like a lot of light bulbs going on above the heads of many people. I don’t know if it will work. But at least they are thinking and looking for ways to differentiate themselves. This is an opportune time for Target to focus on new ideas while Wal-Mart is occupied with health care laws, fines, lawsuits, etc.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Worst thing about the toy biz: most volume comes from a handful of superhits with no margin. Best thing about the Target strategy: everything has margin. To keep it fresh, they’ll need to rotate new items in frequently. If private label becomes dominant, the margins will be truly exciting. The Target angle in more and more categories: we (Target) edit our assortments to keep them exciting.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
14 years 11 months ago

Great idea. A large challenge exists for Target in that their marketing and branding outside the store is so good it frequently creates expectations in the store (among NY Times magazine readers, for example) that are very hard to live up to (much less exceed expectations, which is what the best retailers do). Focusing creative ideas, time and energy on the store is just what they need to be doing to maintain the momentum they currently have. Ultimately, if they get the store to be as fun and kicky as their marketing is, they can become as dominant a player as big brother Wal-Mart. Because of their positioning, they can go places and do things Wal-Mart can’t in that they can capture upscale shoppers as well as traditional down and dirty discount shoppers…….a truly difficult balancing act that is working.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
14 years 11 months ago
The challenge in specialty toys has always been generating sufficient velocity to justify the investment in space and inventory. No doubt that differentiation is important, and that, relative to WM, high end and younger toys can serve an important strategic purpose. Yet, in a world of limited space and resources, at some point the strategic must be balanced with an appropriate GMROI. Although I shop Target at least twice weekly, and always walk the toy section, in the 3 SoCal stores I frequent, I am unaware if this has been rolled out yet. Today, I will go back and specifically look for it. My point is that if it has been rolled out in these stores, and I am a relatively focused shopper….I missed it. That would be “not good”. Studies by other retailers have shown the beneficiary value, long term, of capturing young mothers. This is the basis for the infant and toddler investment at WM, amongst others. The positives of this age group, based on the type of toys described, are that they… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 11 months ago

Not only does Target separate itself from its competition, this new kids strategy will build new shoppers, as each child grows older. Larger profit generator, as well. Brilliant!

Marketing does work at retail, with a sound strategic plan! Target has done this exceptionally well…. Brilliant!!

I saw this new educational/toy/furniture departmen and, by the way, a lady was reading to a group of kids in the same area yesterday in Louisville.

Hats off to one of the premier, consumer marketing oriented
corporations that truly engages its shoppers to find out what is important to them, and their families. Hmmmmmmmmmm

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
14 years 11 months ago

It’s a great idea, but proper execution will be the key. If they keep the display fully stocked and neatly organized, it will go far to creating the correct shopping experience for the consumer. Hopefully, there will be some interactive pieces as well (but not too much or the kids will destroy them).

Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
All positive comments so far and all are due. Target consistently proves that they understand their customer. They continue to re-invent ways to maximize the dollar from their base by meeting the needs of their core shopper. This is simply one instance of many where they continue to find ways to solidify and expand their core customer’s experience at the stores. In a recent trip, I took a second look at their $1 section. At its inception, I was mostly negative on the concept for Target. This time through, I was surprised by the selection and the targeting of product. There was a large amount of product in this section that was directed towards kids. The quality, selection and uniqueness of the items was impressive. These items themselves, while for kids likely a bit older than five, were great hard to find items. They included puzzles, thinking toys and gadget type puzzles. There was also very little if any ‘brand’ named goods in the section making it very much a ‘Target’ section and not simply… Read more »
will graves
Guest
will graves
14 years 11 months ago

I think that some of you may be overestimating the size of this “time to play” boutique. In reality, it is not as large as you think; it is merely one full aisle in each target store. Nonetheless, it does contain a good number of educational and higher end board games, figurines, and musical instruments. Although the price points seem high at first glance, upon examining the items, one can’t help but notice the quality and value that some of the items offer. Any opportunities for higher margins are absolutely necessary when the rest of the department, and store for that matter, is being comp’d against Wal-Mart day in and day out. Target is very aggressive on prices, and pays constant attention to Wal-Mart’s every move. It has to if it wants to stay competitive.

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