Modern retailers stock so many items that consumers can usually buy whatever products they want whenever they want them. Still, a number of companies utilize limited-run sales and exclusive partnerships with brands in order to generate buzz about their business. Target is one of the biggest users of this strategy, teaming up with more than 150 companies in one-off joint ventures since 1999. The retailer’s latest gimmick sale brought them together with the clothing and lifestyle brand Lily Pulitzer, a pairing that caused an avalanche of interest among consumers.
The Sunday sale sent legions of the brand’s fans marching on Target stores, but few who took part in the hullabaloo went home happy. Many spent hours waiting in looping lines only to be greeted with empty shelves once they finally made it in. Some stores sold all of their Lily Pulitzer stock within minutes of opening, while other locations took a little longer to get cleaned out. Those who tried their luck on Target’s website didn’t fare much better. So many users flooded the site that administrators eventually had to shut it down for maintenance. A barrage of angry and disappointed tweets soon followed as customers vented their rage.
The temporary nature of these sales ensures that some people will inevitably go home empty handed. In this instance, however, Target may have underestimated the level of their customers’ interest. The retailer chose not to limit the number of items people placed in their carts, a fact that likely led to such quick sell-outs. Regardless, the purpose of this and similar events isn’t to drum up sales; it’s designed to generate consumer chatter about both the retailer and the brand they’ve partnered with. And while Target’s promotion certainly brought attention to the retailer as well as Lily Pulitzer, not all of that talk was positive. Still, the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Despite its failure to please everyone, Target may have come out on top simply because people cared so much about the sale. What do you think?
- Could Target’s strategy backfire and cause them to lose customers?
- Why is brand image so critical to a retailer such as Target?