Is there such a thing as bad publicity? Recently (9/13/11) Target premiered a new line designed by Missoni, a fashion knitwear mega-player. Target did a tremendous job promoting the new line as long ques formed outside stores (the website apparently crashed from all the traffic too) in anticipation of the colorful zigzag items.
Blunder or genius?
From the news/blog posts read, you would think that Target really blew this one. They ran out of product almost immediately, and many customers were left angry and empty-handed. Maybe it is the retailer in me, but isn’t it the point to sell out of a limited edition line? I mean what retailer really wants to be sitting on product they can’t move?
Target has partnered with different famous fashion designers for years now, so I can’t chalk this up to inexperience. Perhaps they should have produced more or been better able to read the market. Aren’t we in a recession? People in general seem to be buying less.
Statistics such as regression lines help predict customer demand. I imagine Target employs forecasters somewhere at headquarters. One thing I have learned through my MBA studies is that forecasting is really just a misty crystal ball and you only get it right sometimes.
So now what?
OK, we can argue forever about who is right and wrong in this situation; the pissed off customers, the designer or Target themselves? What I am curious about, is will Target turn this snafu into an opportunity to engage further with the customer?
Twitter and the blogosphere were buzzing about how egregious Target’s lack of planning was. What Target must realize is although the customers are irate, at least they were talking about it. The real shame is when silence occurs and the customers simply leave forever.
There is a really great moment here for Target to build more brand loyalty. Here is a short list of what I think would re-engage the clients in this situation.
- Own it! Target needs to step out of the shadows and own the fact that they misread demand and are sorry they made purchasing Missoni product difficult. No one wants to hear excuses, but they do want to be acknowledged for their inconvenience.
- Offer complaining customers an alternative. Give an appeasement discount to those who were disappointed for their next purchase. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to offer a 10-20% discount and along with acknowledging the problem, this would help rebuild loyalty.
- Start a Target/fashionista fan club. There are people who want to be in the know and don’t want to miss the next greatest collection offered at Target. They can not only offer club member discounts but perhaps prepurchasing items so that they can avoid the crowd. Target could limit the amount of items available for purchase on a pre-sale but these items should remain exclusive to club members.
lesson learned: There is no such thing as bad publicity, only missed possibilities
So do you think Target learned anything from all this? Now is the time for them to not only fix a problem, but solidify their position in the discount/high fashion industry. It is true that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. There will always be disappointed customers for one reason or another.
The question I ask of Target is how much do they care about their customers? What steps have they done to ensure success next time? Lastly, what are they going to do now to soothe the masses? Send me your thoughts and comments on the matter.
- Missoni madness: Where you can still buy items (cbsnews.com)
- Behind the Missoni Mayhem: A Brief History of the Luxe Label, Now at Target (newsfeed.time.com)
- Target.com Crashes Due to Missoni Fever (shoppingblog.com)
- Missoni for Target all over eBay (timesunion.com)