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How to Win at Target

23 Oct 2023

Six tips for building effective strategic partnerships with the nation’s second-largest — and most stylish — mass merchant.

Fiscal 2023 has been a mixed bag at Target. The mass merchant experienced its first quarterly sales decline in almost six years this summer due to recession-driven softness in discretionary product categories. But it has continued to see growth in frequency businesses like beauty, food & beverage, and household essentials. 

Strategically, Target has been doubling down on the four retail fundamentals it uses to drive guest loyalty: 

Comprehensive Affordability: The retailer has been spotlighting ultra-low everyday prices, along with easy to understand promotions, and the value delivered through its extensive own brand portfolio.

In-Stock Reliability: Overall in-stocks in the second quarter improved 2.0% compared with the prior year and Target continues to prioritize maintaining the right inventory online and in-store.

Differentiation: Target continues to focus on purpose-forward ideas that fuel differentiation, keeping the retailer as a place for guests to discover newness.

Exceptional Guest Experiences: Target is working to enhance the complete guest journey, introducing a new digital experience on (more personalized content, enhanced search functionality, easier navigation) while opening 20 brick-and-mortar stores (although it was also forced to shutter 9 doors to crime-driven unsafe conditions). 

As always, Target is looking for help from brand partners in enhancing these guest experiences. The following are 6 “must do’s” for brands looking to build a strategic partnership with the retailer and a winning engagement plan for its shoppers:

1. Think Like a Host. Always start with a guest-first mindset to effectively deliver on experiences, seasonal executions and all shopper touch points.

2. Think with That Wink. Develop engaging creative content that aligns with Target’s own fun, clever style.

3. Think Omnichannel. Make sure you’re putting equal effort into the physical and digital shelf experiences.

4. Think Cross-Promotion. Embrace private label by considering cross-category solutions and partnerships with Target’s many owned brands. 

5. Think Innovation. Say yes to test & learn opportunities whenever they’re available. It’s a great way to stay ahead of the competition while staying close to Target.

6. Think Connected Commerce. Harness the power of “One Target” by sharing your pipeline and working to connect your planning and programming across the merchant, marketing, and Roundel media teams.


The Mars Agency’s Customer Development practice is an unrivaled team of in-market commerce experts who simplify the complexity of retail. Located in Bentonville, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and the “backyards” of other key retailers, they provide deep knowledge of the retailer, expertise in key business areas (like strategy, media and creative), and door-opening personal relationships with key executives to deliver an unmatched level of business success for clients across accounts, channels and shopper engagement platforms. For more information, contact SVP-GM Kandi Arrington.

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