Target’s Fall 2009 Marketing Push…the right tactics?

Here are some thoughts from a recent Retail Wire panel discussion of Target’s marketing plans for Fall 2009. The company is ramping up its ad spend, but the issue is whether to push the price-competition comparison with Walmart or to refocus on Target’s key brand positioning. My take:

Target has made a lot of smart moves in the past year, but the question is when they will pay off in better comp sales. They have successfully managed costs and inventories through the recession, they have responded where appropriate to the Walmart price juggernaut, and they have started to put more focus on traffic-building food and consumables.

Nevertheless, the Target brand is still perceived as more “aspirational” than Walmart, which is the appropriate positioning. However,  until cash-strapped consumers start spending more on the kinds of discretionary products that Target sells (apparel and home goods), the retailer will continue to lag behind Walmart. Perhaps some of the higher ad spend this fall should be focused on the businesses that will continue to be Target’s long-term strength.

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