Why is Target Canada failing? Maybe no one cares…
Q: Why does Target struggle in Canada? A: Maybe no one cares…
I get asked this question a lot from industry folks and friends, as I have been in the retail game for a while and I have an opinion about everything. Plus the Canadian and American media have been all over the Target launch in Canada and the subsequent struggles. People are just curious as to what has/is happening. It’s a hot topic around most retailers and vendors water coolers. Why did such a “sure bet” turn into a $1.2 Billion disaster in Canada? What do I think are the underlying reasons for this?
There are a tonne of reasons that get tossed around and most would seem apparently valid.
Yes, they are having merchandise stock level issues. I know they overestimated the relevance of the Red Card holders in Canada and underestimated how many would notice the retail price differences between Canada and the States. I am sure the breach in security in the fall did not help them much either.
However, I am suggesting that it may be even a more simple reason than what is being offered in some of the examples above.
Go even further and take away the economic issues that we all talk about. Take away the aging demographic that are spending less in general. Also take away the price degradation that is impacting most categories etc… Let’s get rid all of the excuses that we can think of.
What is the reason for such a slow (understatement) start that is actually making many other retailers who were looking to open in Canada, think that idea over? What is going on?
I am thinking that much of the reason that Target is struggling may be quite simple; maybe no one cares? I mean who really cares about another large retailer opening another large physical store in Canada? Who really cares? That may be your very simple answer. No One Cares! And you want to know why, it’s boring!
What’s new?! What’s different?! What’s exciting?! What was so worth the wait and the hype?!
Nothing! It’s just another retailer selling the exact same stuff, at pretty much the same prices, in the same boring formats, and in the same fashion as it’s been done for years.
How can a model like that continue to work? Guess what, it can’t. Why would any shopper be excited to make this work?
The challenge that a Target, or any traditional retailer is having and will continue to have, is understanding whether they are relevant in the eyes of today’s consumer.
Do they talk to the younger shoppers (17-39)? Do they get how today’s younger shoppers look at retail. Do they think the little bit older, say 40-65 year olds, shop the same today as yesterday? Do they get this “online / internet” thing (obvious tongue in cheek) that just does not seem to go away? Do they see the Amazon’s, Zappo’s, and eBay’s as true competitors? Do they understand that small, boutique, and more personalized retail is cool? Do they quite simply just not understand the new retail world?
Today’s consumer is time starved and quite frankly not looking at shopping as that great weekend event. Today’s consumer is online researching, online window shopping and in many cases, just online shopping.
Technology is moving lightning fast and making many outlets irrelevant and quite frankly obsolete. I don’t have to get off my butt anymore to shop for most items in my house. I also don’t need your “experts” in the store. I have access to thousands of experts from around the world 24/7/365. I can get help anytime, anywhere: ever hear of YouTube? I can price shop from an array of devices at anytime and anywhere and have the experts of the world with me to help out with choice of retailer by reading reviews from others.
No more photo labs as we have Instagram, Flickr, and Snapchat. We can make photo books via some of these mediums with little effort as well, no more running to the stores. There are no LP, CD, and DVD stores anymore (or if still around – very specialized). Netflix and iTunes etc… have “taken care of” those businesses. Bought much software in a box recently? Ever heard of downloading…. Have you read a newspaper lately (get it – read a “newspaper”) and seen how well Sears and JC Penney are doing. Want retail space in a traditional shopping mall in North America? Think that you will be standing in lines to acquire a spot in a mall? Look how many malls are going the way of the dinosaur.
The list goes on and on and crosses most goods and services. This is not rocket science folks. None of what I am talking about has not been talked about way too many times in recent history and in all mediums.
Do retailers understand that we can shop 24/7/365?! Do they really “get it”?!
Wake up retailers. Wake up!
Wanna know the real reason why Target is just not working?
Maybe no one cares about Target. Maybe no one cares about large box retail. No one cares about your bricks and mortar! No one! A little harsh? A little too bold to say? Probably; but you gotta wake up folks. The times they are a changing… What the hell do I care about a new store/chain opening, especially when it’s the same as the old boring stores that I have to choose from.
I want relevancy. I want to shop when I want, why I want, where I want, at any time I want with no obstacles in my way. I want free shipping or an option to grab at a location that works for me. Yes, that is what I want; I want, what I want.
It’s ALL about ME!
If I am going into a bricks and mortar store (there are many still do like going to stores, me included), I want cool. Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sephora, David’s Teas, or Apple. Or I want local. I like my local deli, local butcher, local fruit vendor and farmers markets. I want to buy online, but I also want cool online with unlimited options like Amazon, Spud.ca, eBay, Zappos, and do I dare I say, my company, London Drugs. I want it now. I want it on deal. I want it my way.
That’s what I want. I don’t care about your new big box opening and guess what, I’m not alone. And worse yet, I’m not in that 17-39 age group, I’m 48 and I still don’t care. That is why I think Target has struggled. It may not be so much a “Target the store issue” as much as a lack of understanding of today’s consumer and how, when, where, and why they shop. They have not looked at the present and for sure have not looked into the future. That’s the issue; or at least that’s my opinion for today…
Ciao for now @kootenayborn