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Can Improving Guest Experience Help Target Canada Fix Its Image Problem?

targetIt is no secret that US-based retailer Target has an image problem, last year the company suffered a data breach by a hacker which resulted in 110 million bank card numbers being stolen. As a result of this blunder Chief information Officer, Beth Jacob had stepped down from the post as well CEO, Gregg Steinhafel also resigned which caused the stock and consumer confidence to plummet.  Back in May the Target board hired Brian Cornell, an Ex-PepsiCo to the top post, replacing Interim CEO John Mulligan, but Brian did not start until yesterday, August 12th.  Here in Canada they had fired Tony Fisher, and appointed Mark Schindele as the new President of Target Canada, Mark had played a key role in launching new store formats like Target Express and CityTarget in the U.S.

This morning the company issued a press release, “Target Canada Outlines Key Initiatives to Improve Guest Experience” which outlines a number of steps the giant retailer plans to take over the next few months including:

Target Canada today announced several initiatives to improve business performance and better deliver the Target brand experience to Canadian guests from coast to coast. The initiatives come on the heels of some leadership changes last spring and a comprehensive review of its Canadian operations.

Among the announcements, Target unveiled a number of merchandise initiatives, including a long-term partnership with celebrity designer Sarah Richardson, set to launch next year.

“We’ve been listening to our guests and taking a hard look at where we need to improve,” said Mark Schindele, president, Target Canada. “We’ve uncovered the root cause of some of our challenges and are focused on three main areas: improving in-stocks, sharpening our pricing strategy and enhancing our merchandise assortment.”

Target Canada also announced a number of additional merchandise improvements, responding to guest reaction and requests, including:

  • Partnering with Roots to extend the exclusive and popular Beaver Canoe assortment, with expanded home décor, and the addition of new apparel like sleepwear and slippers coming this fall.
  • In Apparel, expanding the maternity assortment by 50 per cent in September. In addition, Nick & Nora, the popular U.S. women’s fashion line, will be available in Target Canada stores next year. The previously announced Altuzarra for Target designer collaboration launches September 14. Also, early next year a plus size line will be introduced.
  • Expanded cosmetic lineups, through an exclusive partnership with e.l.f. and the addition of an “e.l.f. essential” line, as well as tripling the space allotted for the popular NYX line in October.
  • In September, Target Canada is launching an exclusive brand of household cleaners called Better Life, as well as the exclusive eco-friendly line Ecover from Europe.
  • In Home, the launch of the exclusive line of appliances called French Bull, which will bring exciting colour and design to everyday appliances at a great price. In addition, this fall Target Canada will also be bringing to stores an exciting new range of well-known small appliance brands some of which have been previously unavailable in mass retail.
  • Overall, between now and Christmas, Target will be bringing more than 30,000 new items to its assortment, from the upcoming Halloween and Holiday assortments, to Fall apparel.

In response to guest feedback, Target Canada announced a new price match policy, which includes:

  • Price matching for any local competitor’s flyer or weekly ad (print or online), and price matching for select online retailers, including,,,,,, and
  • Guests can now use popular apps, such as reebee and flipp to price match, instead of bringing a printed flyer.
  • Price match can now be completed at the register instead of guest service.

Target was the first major retailer to expand into Canada in quite a while and there was tremendous amount pressure on them to succeed and may criticized the company based on a number of factors such as hiring too fast.  With the firing of Fisher there were some obvious problems, but can this new campaign bring Target Canada back into the good graces of analysts, consumers and stockholders?  Their next quarterly earning report comes out on August 20th, but that will be too soon to tell the greater impact of the new changes.