Skip to main content

A giant Target on their retailers’ backs


The impending arrival of the U.S. retail giant–which plans to convert between 100-150 Zellers locations to Target stores next year–is being touted as the biggest thing to happen in Canadian retail since the 1994 arrival of Walmart.

And if attendance at informational seminars about Target is any indication, there is considerable curiosity among Canadian retailers and vendor partners about its potential impact on their business.

Jeff Doucette, who operates Calgary-based Sales Is Not Simple (SINS), tells Canadian Grocer that more than 300 people have attended his company’s one-day “Selling Target in Canada” seminar since it debuted in October.

For Canadian incumbents, the key to successfully competing with Target is a better understanding of their key shopper profiles and what motivates them to buy, says Doucette.

Chains that can mine customer data obtained through their loyalty card programs– a list that includes Metro’s Metro & Moi, Longo’s Thank You Rewards and Quality Foods’ Q-Card–will do better than those employing what Doucette calls a “stack it high and watch it fly” approach to business.

“Grocers should look at which of its current shoppers fit the Target guest profile and build messaging to keep them in the store for their grocery purchases,” Doucette advises.

As for Target’s potential vendor partners, they too need to recognize the company is a “unique beast.” While it is similar to other retailers in wanting to drive sales and contain costs to boost its margins, it also has an “intense focus” on its core guest and building the overall Target brand.

“They will make the right decision for their brand and for the category before accepting a hot front page deal because a vendor shows up with a big bag of cash,” says Doucette.

While vendors have courted Target by making exclusive products–Procter & Gamble, for example, created an special edition of its household cleaning product Swiffer in Target red–it is neither a guarantee of success or a requirement, says Doucette.

“The key learning from this example is that Target likes exclusive merchandise that fits with its overall image fashion and design, and is aligned with the profile of the Target guest,” he says.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds