Target “Target” for Black Friday

Last year when I first came to the United States, I was really looking forward to the “Black Friday” big sale, though it is almost unimaginable for me to stay up the night and stand in line, just to buy something. The “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday” and the “Boxing Day” in my sense are new shining terms meaning “big sales”. In 2011, 225 million American shoppers spent $ 52.4 billion on Black Friday even with the struggling economy. However, regardless of the fierce competition between retailers and the huge sale volume during Black Friday, it is not the best margin day for retailers considering the heavy discount. Instead, retailers perceive it as a chance to connect to and gain customers in which sense the Black Friday is like a must-watch carnival that no one wants to miss.

a typical Black Friday scene

As a matter of a fact, retailers have long geared up for the Black Friday and the following big holiday season. Target, the giant chain retailer, is planning on some bold moves for this shopping season. Following Bestbuy, for the first time, Target announced its online price match programs with its rivals including,,, and in early Oct., which will cover the period from Nov.1 to Dec.16. Basically, this program will enable customers to compare the prices of an identical product in Target stores with and its online retailer competitors. And Target will match the price if customers found Target did not offer the lowest price.

Of course, this is not the only bait Target has. In addition to Target+ Neiman Marcus collection, customers will find the exclusive holiday gifting collection which contains 850 gift options ranging from sweaters and scarves to I-phone cases. Very interestingly, for music lovers, Target is also ready to present its exclusive album as a result of its cooperation with One Direction and Tony Bennett.

More importantly, Target is dedicated to creating a more convenient, seamless and customized digital shopping experience for Holiday shoppers. Simply using their cellphone to send a message or scan a QR code to Target, customers can shop from the television spots, bus shelter ads and catalog pages. Moreover, in an effort to better promote its mobile app, Target is offering free WiFi in all Target stores to facilitate customers’ use of redeeming Target mobile coupons and scanning QR code. In fact, Target is also piloting a new technology in some of its stores which is able to help guide customers to certain products by locating their cellphones.

Target’s strategy of laying particular emphasis on online and mobile shopping is well-based as retailers have witnessed a strong increase in digital shopping in recent years. There are some interesting points that worth noticing. According to a report from IBM in 2011, 2011 was the first year that strong holiday spending started as early as from Thanksgiving with a 39.3% increase in online spending that day followed by a continuous 24.3% increase in online sales on Black Friday. Mobiles are playing a bigger part in this bargain battle as people turn to mobiles more to investigate the best deals and the most direct result is that mobile traffic increased to 14.3% on Black Friday 2011 (compared to 5.6% in 2010). Not surprisingly, researches also showed that Iphone and Ipad are the top two options for mobile shoppers and Ipad drives more purchase more frequently probably due to its bigger screen which leads to a better shopping experience. Besides, social networks ‘influence cannot be overlooked. It turned out that 53% of sales were results of social media referral, among which Facebook brought in 75% of all social media traffic.

Both retailers and shoppers have sufficient reasons to look forward to this year’s Black Friday and the whole shopping season followed. Retailers are trying to do their best to bring old customers closer and attract more new customers by taking in consideration the new trend. Target, as a good example, apparently has recognized and began to make use of the trend by starting earlier, leaning toward digital shopping. For me, as an ordinary shopper, Target totally got me because it’s so much better to just click on my mouse or cellphone to finish a purchase than standing outside in a dark cold winter night.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Target “Target” for Black Friday

  1. Amy Duan says:

    I think what Target is doing regarding the coming Thanksgiving is smart and amazing. The price comparing system reminded me of a recent prize war among China’s appliance retailers, which also starts a social-media chaos as the retailer managers all claimed in their micro-blogs that the price in their own store is the lowest. This price war led to both positive and negative results, however I think Target is doing the right thing.
    Last time I got the coupon of Target because there is a grand-opening in Downtown LA, and I asked my friend to go and check out together, but he said, “Target is so expensive! I rather go to Walmart.” It is good for Target to show a friendly position regarding its pricing especially during this shopping season, which makes the promotion very natural and people will not easily associate the lower price with lower-quality products.

    • Tansy Tang says:

      Thank you for sharing your ideas. I heard about the price competition in China too. For me, as a consumer, I’m definitely happy about the lower prices, but price cannot be the only competition strategy because low price will almost inevitably lead to worse quality and the homogenization of appliance retailers will harm the industry as a whole. Target, for example, chose to partner with Neiman Marcus and other high or middle- level brands to open up their exclusive lines in Target. In this way, Target created itself a high-end facet too despite of the commonly-used price competition. That’s what Chinese retailers can learn from or be inspired from.

  2. Jackie Attwood-Dupont says:

    This news about a price comparison system is really interesting, particularly because I think Target’s niche in its market is not completely price-driven. My friends and I refer to Target as Tar-jay (as if pronouncing it with a French accent, which makes it sound fake-fancy). We do this because Target appeals to us by offering lines from famous designers at more ordinary prices. For example, Missoni for Target. When Missoni launched the Target website crashed due to the traffic from high demand and the line almost immediately sold out!

    They appear to be furthering this tradition with the Neimen Marcus for Target line this Christmas, adding a luxury brand title to their collection.

    Perhaps the price comparison tool will draw those shoppers who ONLY care about price? But I wonder if it will harm the good reputation Target for affordable fashion and taste.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing you bring up in this blog post is the mobile shopping. This is brilliant on Target’s part. I’m sure, for example, that they can actually test the success of certain billboards and bus ads, based on the amount of people who scan the ad to actually order what it displays! And they can probably even locate, with mobile location services through Google, exactly which ad in what city turned the most viewers into buyers. That is an impressive and powerful metric. And it will be equally impressive when Target, with the help of phone apps and free in-store wifi, can track customer movement in the store and offer them in-store location-based advertisements and price drops. Wow. This both excites and terrifies me!

    • Tansy Tang says:

      Jackie, thank you for sharing your impression of Target. Target would be very pleased to hear that it has distinctive features in customers ‘eyes. As for me, I think Target is more for bedding products, toys, such kind of things, so the price competition won’t influence my perception of it. And since the black Friday is all about big sales, I guess Target doesn’t want to be an exception. As long as Target’s cooperation with those big brands is still doing well, I’m positive that the yearly price competition won’t hurt its image or instead, even makes it more approachable.

      I’m fascinated by the mobile shopping trend too. But I’m not sure how far it can go because limited by the screen size of a cellphone, the mobile shopping is not able to provide with customers the same amount of joy. I feel like the mobile shopping is only useful for quick or impulsive shopping. So I would like to see how studies done in comparing customers’ consuming behaviors on a computer with that on a cellphone or an Ipad.

  3. Qingwei says:

    Thanks Tansy! As a shopholic I love both your insightful interpretation and shopping info!
    The price comparing system is really intriguing and it also reminded me of the recent price war taking place in China’s Ecommerce industry. But that was not the first time I heard of this kind of system. Back to two years ago when I was doing a course project with regard to online book retailers in China, I heard about the price alert system adopted by Zhouyue, the Chinese Ecommerce titan and joint venture with Amazon. The system keeps monitoring the prices of books ( I don’t know whether it also applies to other categories) on the websites of Zhuoyue’ main competitors such as Dangdang. Wen the price of a particular book on competitors’ websites is lower than that on Zhuoyue, Zhuoyue will know immediately and adjust the price. I compared the prices of many books on the two websites and found the prices were set at almost the same level and I am still wondering how Zhuoyue decides whether to adjust the prices whenever an alert is received.
    I had never heard of Target by the time I came to the US. After I came here, I found Target a really great place for shopping because I could always find what I wanted at an affordable or even incredibally low price. The logo is highly identifiable too. It is great that it begins to use mobile apps and wifi to attract conumers. I cannot wait to see the campaign wars launched by all the retailers for this year’s Thanksgiving. I am also wondering what new ideas will emerge after consumers are bored with all the new media buzz and creative campaigns. Because I have noticed myself ignoring campaigns and ads regularly and only paying attention to straitforward discount infoformaion. After the explosion of all kinds of marketing tricks, it is extremely hard for a campaign to stand out now.

  4. mengying says:

    Dear Tansy, thanks for your information. This is the first time that I experienced Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday in US. Actually I think it’s quite similar with the Boxing Day in London. And I prefer define them as a festival that you have to experience. According to my experience, in some ordinary days, we may meet similar big sales and the deal information is always keep updating every day. But on that special festival, I just feel like I have to buy something even though I don’t need them. It’s a feeling like attending a festival and nobody wants to be excluded.

    I agree with you that mobile strategy is extremely important for the sales nowadays. It’s not only because for the online shopping trend, but also because during the thanksgiving vocation, many customers are actually travelling outside. For instance, for me, I will never give up the opportunity of a trip for consuming goods in stores. To avoid missing the deals, I mostly shop online by mobile devices on the way. Therefore, I believe more efforts should be taken to achieve these customers who are also travelling on the way. More flexible methods should be provided to consume besides for online and in stores.

    With regards to the price match system, I think there are lots of similar case studies in mainland china, such as Dangdang, the biggest online book store. Its fierce competition with Amazon leaves us more information on how to win in the price war. Moreover, I would like to add that besides for the price sensitive strategy, more intangible tactics should be taken into consideration, such as increase shopping motivation as John Lewis did.