There has been a lot of anticipation building around the opening of Target stores in Canada, as well as some skepticism following less-than-stellar showings by other newly introduced American stores (such as Marshall’s). One of Target’s spokespeople – Amy O’Reilly – delivered a concise message to reassure potential shoppers, stating that “Our Canadian customers can expect the same exclusive products, the same designer partnerships and the same environmental and community outreach that their American neighbors enjoy" (from walletpop.ca). This statement clearly and concisely captures 3 essential elements of their PR campaign:
1) Exclusive products at discount prices (encapsulated in their tagline, “Expect more. Pay less”)
2) Accessible and fashionable items with designer credibility
3) Corporate social responsibility, and investing in their new communities.
Building on the stance they’ve established so far, there are a few tactical ideas that Target could consider. All off these proposed promotional ideas should be accompanied by a detailed media relations strategy, such as press releases and press kits, PSAs (for the educational tactics), and promoted posts on social media.
Target has had great success in the past with pop-up stores coinciding with special events (such as a recent pop-up in Toronto, and another in New York to celebrate Zac Posen’s new line) but this tactic could cease to be buzz-worthy if it’s overused, so it would need to be considered carefully. A pop-up store – or stores – that coincide with a popular time for Canadians to cross the border for American deals, such as Black Friday, would be a great way to leverage the support of Canadians who already frequent Target (10% of Canadians, apparently). This would also reinforce the promise that Canadian Target stores will have the same quality, selection, and low prices as American stores, while staying closer to home.
Designer partnerships (such as the most recent Neiman Marcus line) have been extremely important in Target’s advertising and promotion, which has a direct appeal to “every fashionista-on-a-budget north of the border” (walletpop.ca). An online contest on a visually driven and fashion-friendly social network, such as Pinterest, would offer exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming collections, and build anticipation for the actual arrival of these collections. Target could invite fans to build their own personalized pinboard of favorite looks from an upcoming collection, which would enter them to win a shopping spree for when the store opens. Not only would this help to promote the designers and brands, but it would also build anticipation among fashion and social media influencers and their followers.
Target has also already begun building their reputation for corporate social responsibility through a Facebook campaign to donate $1 Million to Canadiancharities. They could develop this reputation and reinforce their community commitment further with smaller initiatives, based specifically in the communities that they are moving into. They place a lot of emphasis on education, so it would be logical to partner with local museums to plan a free or subsidized admission day in advance of the store opening. In collaboration with the school and museums, they could plan a scavenger hunt (or a similar, age-appropriate educational activity) in the museum, with Target providing age-appropriate prizes linked to the Target brand – for example, gift cards for older students, or plush animals for younger students). While Targetstates that 70% of Canadians are already familiar with their brand, this would – quite literally – bring their brand awareness home.
Of course, regardless of the tactics that they use to build awareness and buzz around the opening, the proof will be in the pudding, and their success will depend on how the Target stores and shopping experience measure up to their promises.