Last week was the end of an era for Target. The last of its 133 Canadian stores closed, leaving 17,000 former Target employees to update their resumes and begin looking for new occupations. The new CEO of Target convinced the board that it was the right thing to do. The stores were empty, and the Canadian consumer was not picking up what Target was throwing down.
Our source article refers to several reasons, but we are going to highlight the marketing one.
Target Canada failed to deliver on the promise it made to the Canadian consumer.
In Art & Copy, George Lois boasted about how he could make anything be exciting and sell. But he did add a caveat. He said that it had better be a good product. If the product doesn't deliver, then the business will end, because every consumer that sees the marketing and advertising will try it, and they will all know that it sucks.
The Target Canada CEO explained that the marketing chosen heightened the expectations of Target's offerings to the point that when the Canadian consumers got there, their expectations were not met. Target Canada advertised the brand but provided little information about what it actually carried, so Canadian consumers left Target with no intention of returning. And here we are.
The point? Marketing and advertising are meant to inform consumers of the promises your brand intends to deliver on. In the marketing curriculum, it is taught that the "brand promise" is one of the main reasons consumers buy a product — because the brand puts its reputation and future business hopes on the line to make sure that the product the consumer purchases (or intends to purchase) will satisfy their needs and wants.
Poor Promises Produce Poor Profits. Not the 5 Ps marketers want to hear.
It's unfortunate that 17,000 employees are now seeking new opportunities because a promise couldn't be kept. Hopefully Target has learned its lesson.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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