This story is about the continued downward spiral of US retailers. This is hardly breaking news, of course, and I think we all expect a slow recovery in shopping motivations. What interested me was a short sentence used by the writer, Mae Anderson of the Associated Press, to reference some of the bad news about Target. She referred to Target as “the cheap chic retailer” and then went on to inform us that Target had a 6.1% drop in same store sales.
If the Target brand was really viewed as “chic,” I have no doubt sales would be up. Oh, Target tells us it is hip and chic, but nothing in the shopping experience pays it off. This is a perfect example of a company believing that brand is a marketing ploy. It is not. Brand is a permission the customer must feel about themselves. At Target, customers don’t feel chic — they feel cheap (or, at least, smart). But certainly not “chic.” Given the choice over cheap (or smart), consumers are better suited to shop at Wal-Mart – and that is in fact exactly what they are doing.