Understanding Your Customers


by Aryeh Powers

When I think about different brands that significantly impact my life, I usually categorize them into 2 categories of brands. To me there are brands that I associate with products and there are brands that I associate with services. An example of a product brand is Nike. Nike is a brand that develops footwear (the product). Crestview Service Center is my mechanic and a brand that I associate with their service, which is fixing my car.

Then there’s the brand Target. See Target is a brand that I have learned to associate with products AND services, but not services in the traditional sense.

The service that Target offers is a service that is not transparent, like most services are. The service that Target offers is one in which my personal shopping experience becomes one that is centered around my shopping habits and one that is less about the product and more about me as a shopper. Bare with me, while I explain.

The following is Target’s mission statement: “Our mission is to make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and an exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise.” In short, Target offers products that are stylish but less expensive, in ADDITION to providing an EXCEPTIONAL guest experience.

Target has recently begun to open a series of “city stores”, starting in Chicago and spreading to other locations throughout America. The move by target was featured in a businessweek.com article. “City stores, which are two-thirds the size of typical Target big boxes and may shrink further, will also open this year in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco” Businessweek.com reported.

The article continues by offering the reason why Target is opening these smaller, more urban City stores. The reason: “The City store’s appearance in Chicago coincides with the reversal of a nationwide trend: the urban exodus that began in the 1960s. For the first time in 20 years, cities are growing faster than suburbs and exurbs”.

The Business Week article comes a few months after another article on Target, featured in the New York Times, titled “How Companies Learn Your Secrets”. The New York Times article discusses the extremely advanced tactics that Target uses to determine shopping habits and how they subsequently go about marketing their products to their customers, based on those habits.

So to break it down, what I find to be so interesting about Target is the emphasis that Target places on BOTH understanding their customers shopping habits and on offering products and promotions that resonate best with their customers.

Most marketing strategies for perishable products that I hear about, are strategies that promote better usage of product placement and strategies consisting of a more product centered marketing effort (understanding how customers interact with the product, its package design, UI etc.), rather than a marketing strategy that promotes better understanding of the customer and customer trends.

I congratulate Target for implementing a marketing strategy that promotes great products in a way that caters to their specific customers and their customer habits and look forward to seeing other brands adopt similar methods when developing their marketing strategies.




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