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Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

In 2017, everyone was laughing at Target.

Sales had continued to slide. Stores were in disrepair. And company leaders were struggling to adapt to the changing behavior of consumers–many of whom were shopping more and more with online retailers like Amazon.

As fellow retailers Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Gap collectively shuttered hundreds of stores because of similar struggles, analysts said Target should do the same.

But Target executives, led by CEO Brian Cornell, had a different idea. The key to revitalizing Target, they said, was to go on the offensive.

So, in March 2017, Target made a huge announcement: It planned to invest over $7 billion in a turnaround strategy that would include:

  • remodeling existing stores (and opening smaller ones in urban areas);
  • introducing new, private label brands; and,
  • enhancing its digital shopping experience.

Wall Street thought the plan was a disaster. On the day of the announcement, Target suffered its largest stock plunge in almost a decade.

But fast-forward to today, and Target is thriving. First-quarter results for 2019 beat analysts’ expectations. The store’s private-label lines are exploding. And as comparable store sales continue to rise, the stock price is trading at an all-time high.

How did Target do it?

A close look at the company’s brilliant turnaround strategy reveals some major lessons for businesses of any size.

Here are some highlights:

Think long term.

When Target announced its turnaround plan, Cornell expected backlash. He knew investors would hate the idea of stuttering profits for the foreseeable future.

But he held fast to his plan. “We’re investing in our business with a long-term view of years and decades, not months and quarters,” Cornell said at the time.

Cornell knew this reset was necessary because so many Target stores had fallen into disrepair over the years. And while the company was making efforts in e-commerce, it simply didn’t have the infrastructure to deliver.

Contrast that with today. Target has remodeled hundreds of stores, and it has built a hundred “mini-stores” in urban areas like New York and on college campuses (with plans to open dozens more of these every year for the foreseeable future). The company also invested heavily in its e-commerce operations to great benefit. (More on this in a minute.)

By focusing on the long-term health of the company instead of short-term financial performance, Cornell took a page out of Jeff Bezos’s playbook–and it clearly worked.

Leverage your strengths.

Target’s e-commerce infrastructure needed a complete revamp. But could the company really compete with Amazon and Walmart, which were years ahead of the curve?

It could–by doing things a little differently.

Target execs knew that as popular as e-commerce has become, the majority of retail shopping still takes place in physical stores–especially when it comes to clothing.

So Target chose to focus on a model that would maximize its strengths. Known as “ship-to-store,” Target’s e-commerce platform turns physical stores into mini warehouses for online customers. That makes it possible for customers to order a product online, and then pick it up in a store on the same day.

Ship-to-store reduces Target’s shipping and handling costs, and takes advantage of already existing space in physical stores. And if a customer decides to do some shopping while already there at Target, the benefit is two-fold.

Fill a gap.

Consumers had once affectionately referred to Target as “Tarzhay,” an ode to products and style that were affordable yet a step above those offered by competitors like Walmart. Over time, though, Target had created too many labels that were clear misses.

“Tarzhay” had lost its cachet.

But nobody had stepped up to fill that gap of stylish, exclusive clothing for lower prices. So, in an effort to rebuild its reputation, Target doubled down on its exclusive brands. The company has launched 20 private-label lines over the past three years, including brands for modern furniture, kids’ clothes, electronics, and home goods.

The investment paid off: Six of Target’s private-labels each do more than a billion dollars in annual sales. These labels, together with other brands sold exclusively at Target,  contribute nearly a third of the company’s overall revenue (and an even greater percentage of profits).

In addition, Target has worked hard to fill gaps left by unsuccessful competitors. For example, when stores like Toys “R” Us and the Sports Authority went bankrupt, Target saw this as opportunity: market share begging to be gobbled up.

Yes, Target has definitely gotten its groove back. It did so by bucking analysts’ advice, and instead returning to basics:

Thinking long-term. Leveraging strengths. Filling gaps.

I guess Target got the last laugh after all.

By: Justin Bariso Author, EQ Applied

Source: Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

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Amazon Goes ‘Jurassic’ in Triple-Branded Marketing Stunt – Genevieve Dietz

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mysterious Amazon shipping box seen being driven around L.A. yesterday has been capturing the attentions and imaginations of intrigued Los Angeles locals. The box, a three-way branded stunt between Amazon, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and the Jeep Rubicon, features the signature Jurassic World logo on its side, numerous air holes, the hashtag #AmazonFindsAWay (a reference to the series’ first film), and an interactive shipping label that invites you to discover what’s in the box.

The shipping label is made out to Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the two protagonists of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It features a QR SmileCode that people can scan using the camera icon in the Amazon app and it encourages passerby’s to ask “Alexa, ask Jurassic World what’s inside this box?”

Both elements activate a landing page with discounted Jurassic Park movies and a creative piece of video marketing that reveals the secrets of the box…dinosaur screeching included.

Unfortunately, the box doesn’t contain a T-Rex or any other dinosaur hybrid cooked up in the Jurassic World labs. Instead, it contains new shipments of exclusive Jeep Rubicon’s tied to the film.

Since the first film debuted, Jeeps have been the vehicle of choice for transporting tourists and staff through the prehistoric theme park and the upcoming sequel will feature a revamped version of the classic car.

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The Jurassic World Twitter account shared a sneak peek of the vehicle design in a tweet announcing the elaborate campaign. This three-way, interactive promotion is about as inventive as physical and digital marketing can get. The box, video, and social media promotional tie-ins excel at instilling a sense of wonder in the hearts of viewers everywhere, both in Los Angeles and across the world.

A Brief History of Jurassic Park’s Marketing Endeavors

The original Jurassic Park, released in 1993, changed the movie game. The groundbreaking special effects, the instantly recognizable score, the tight script, and the irresistible cast made Jurassic Park the cinematic legend it is today. What people tend to gloss over however, is how the film’s content marketing and promotion strategies helped make it not only an enduring hit but a household name.

The studio spent 65 million towards promoting the movie and over 1,000 unique products were created. In 1996 Universal Studios created themed rides for its Orlando park including ‘Jurassic Park: River Adventure’, a groundbreaking water ride that still attracts large crowds today.

Amblin VP Brad Globe and MCA/Universal VP Elizabeth Gelfand are responsible for creating the original film’s ambitious marketing campaigns. Globe in particular is credited with putting the Jurassic Park logo on any and all products associated with the film.

McDonald’s, an early Jurassic Park marketing partner, came out with several ‘Jurassic’ themed meal deals and kids toys. Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Kellogg, and numerous other brands popular at the time joined in on the fun and saturated the market with ‘Jurassic’ themed items.

Jurassic Park Starts Marketing for a Digital Age

When Jurassic World came out in 2015, fourteen years after the series’ third installment, we still saw the familiar toy tie-in’s and branded soda cans, but we also started seeing VR and AR campaigns, social and digital marketing campaigns, mobile apps, and more.

For Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Universal’s marketing team is taking things a step further by integrating AI (Amazon Alexa) into its marketing approach, and releasing more realistic AR experiences, including a mobile game called Jurassic World Alive.

Marketing for ‘Fallen Kingdom’ is now in full swing and it’s likely that Universal will spring more marketing surprises on us in the near future. If Universal keeps ramping up their marketing efforts, who knows what will be in store for the series’ fifth, sixth, or even tenth installment (if people keep turning up for more ‘Jurassic’ movies that is.)

Final Thoughts

As A.I., VR, and AR become more accessible and commonplace, expectations for more interactive marketing experiences have gotten higher.

Marketing for big-budget studio films and major brands has become an ultra competitive game and campaigns for those sorts of efforts require some level of A.I. augmented reality, virtual reality, at the very least, interactive video integration to be seen as relevant.

However, it’s not just big brands that have to pay attention to those sorts of trends and expectations, small brands often benefit from entering the tech space early as well.

People appreciate when brands make an effort to create out of the box campaigns (no pun intended) and they tend to be more engaged with brands that use uncommon resources or platforms or emerging technologies to supercharge their campaigns.

Amazon’s Jurassic World shipping box generated mass amounts of engagement and L.A. natives were all over Twitter sharing photos and videos of the stunt in action.

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Of course, a stunt like this takes a tremendous amount of funds and resources to pull off but the general creative qualities of it can be achieved on a smaller scale by any brand.

Elements that are present in Amazon’s Jurassic World marketing stunt can be easily adopted by marketers. It’s become insanely simple to integrate QR codes into marketing materials and companies like Amazon are making it easy for marketers to integrate Amazon Alexa into their promotional materials.

Plus, after some brainstorming, unique brand hashtags only take a few seconds to add to a social post and can help lure thousands of new users to your site.

In a nutshell, the more expensive a campaign is doesn’t necessarily make it a better campaign. Creativity is, of course, essential to content creation and that includes being creative in the way we utilize tech tools. Soon, as A.I., VR, AR, and other tech become cheaper to integrate, there won’t be any excuse for brands to be disconnected.

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