A first chance to make a life-long impression

Back-to-school season is underway in Canada and for Target, which opened its first stores in Canada earlier this year, the stakes could not be higher.

Beyond simply a major seasonal selling opportunity, back-to-school season is really Target’s first meaningful opportunity to firmly establish its brand identity with a new generation of shoppers. In much the same way that a kid going to a new school for the first time is quickly sized up and then categorized by other students, now that Target operates 67 stores in Canada younger shoppers can more readily judge for themselves if the retailer lives up to the “expect more, pay less,” brand promise and is deserving of their dollars.

To accomplish that objective, Target is employing a strategy similar to that which has worked effectively in the U.S., namely a broad assortment of value-priced, on-trend merchandise. According to the company, students will find solutions and on-trend items to make the most of any back-to-school budget and a wide assortment of home furnishings, school supplies and fashion.

"This is Target's first back-to-school season here in Canada, and we are excited to show our Canadian guests our vast product assortment and incredible value," said Target Canada SVP of merchandising John Morioka. "From new back-to-school clothes to bedding and dorm room accessories, students can display their personal style, even if on a budget, and still have the quality our guests have come to know and love."

An on-trend product assortment is one thing, but Target also is looking to leverage social media to drive brand engagement and differentiation. For example, from August 13 to 19, Target will invite parents to upload pictures of their kids showing off their unique style on Facebook using hashtag #KidsGotStyle. During that week, Target will create an inspiration gallery, including items and supplies inspired by the photos received. Select customers who participate will be chosen at random to win one of 100 $50 Target gift cards and a grand prize of one $1,000 Target gift cards.

For students heading back to college, Target is employing a different type of digital strategy which involves list making. Whether post-secondary students are moving into a dorm or their first apartment, Target contends they will find all of the necessities at the retailer’s Canadian stores. To help students get started, Target is offering a checklist at www.target.ca/backtocampus, which allows students to organize and personalize their back-to-campus shopping list, taking the guess work out of shopping and making sure they are covered with all of the necessities they need when heading out on their own. The company is also offering after-hours busing events which bring new students at select universities to stores for private shopping events. During orientation week, first year students will be transported from their campus to their local Target store for an evening of entertainment, exclusive offers and last-minute shopping.

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