Target vs. Walmart on price: Worth the effort?

Today’s RetailWire panel discussion centers on Target’s stated desire to get more credit from its customers for being price-competitive with Walmart. This issue seems to come up frequently, because Target has trouble having it both ways. If it is aiming to be the “aspirational” retailer, does it matter whether it price-matches Walmart across the board? Here’s my point of view:
Target is walking a fine line: Can it improve its value positioning vs. Walmart while being true to its own image? It’s possible that the 90% of Americans who are employed feel more secure about their economic prospects than they did a year ago — there is evidence in consumer spending on the home — and are willing to trade back up. So Target’s biggest opportunity for a win is to be true to its longtime brand position as the leader in value-priced but well-designed family apparel and items for the home.
It’s important to be price-competitive on commodity businesses but Target has to be careful not to expend too much effort or brand equity doing so. The retail landscape is littered with former competitors of Walmart who tried to compete strictly on the basis of price.
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