How Target Finds their Target Customers

When I first read the New York Times article by Charles Duhigg about the excessive research mega retailer Target completes on it’s customers, I was a bit surprised. Although I thought of the irony as Target’s logo is a bulls-eye as they certainly know how to nab their ideal consumers. I love Target and I can rarely go in there to just buy the item I initially went to purchase. They have that awesome dollar area in the entrance of the store filled with fun goodies like cheap holiday decorations, snacks, candy, teaching supplies, stocking stuffers, and pretty much everything that you don’t “need” but it’s just too cute and cheap to pass up. Before I know it, my basket is full of this stuff before i have even actually entered the store to make the purchase I went for. I have to say it is an awesome marketing strategy. Then before I know it I’m over in the clothing section because I love to purchase clothes from Target. They always have those simple pieces (with quality) like leather jackets, cardigans, sweaters, tanks, etc. at affordable prices. Now my basket is becoming even more full and I still have not even gone to purchase what I went in for. You get my point here? 

Now enough about my Target obsession, the fact is that Target knows exactly how to Target their ideal customers. The article mentions that Target buys public records which allow them to suggest products to customers in a certain demographic/ life change. The article speaks of pregnant women and how Target starts sending out promotions to them during their second trimester. As a pregnant women, you may not think “how does Target know I am pregnant?” Rather you think, “I’m on a budget, look at all these coupons and cute stuff for the baby!” The article states, “If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you” grab a carton. Oh and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us and keep coming back” (Duhigg 1). The point is, they want to get you in and keep you as a customer.

I know first hand Target buys information from companies because I have experience with it. My sister and I both moved away to college this year. Throughout the summer we received tons of coupons for dorm items and things we may need for school. Since there is two of us, my mom would ask her friends if they received the coupons as well so she could save more money. But, they wouldn’t get those same fliers in the mail rather it would be for something else. For example, my mother’s friends have young children so they may get coupons for promotions for back to school clothing or toy promotions at the holidays. 

The fact that Target buys information to learn about their customer base and keeps track of how we purchase and what we purchase is sort of creepy but in the long run a very smart marketing strategy. If you love Target like I do, it saves you money on the things you need to purchase. But, like I have mentioned they get you in the store and then you end up spending more money.


2 thoughts on “How Target Finds their Target Customers

  1. It’s actually a frightening thought that Target and other stores literally buy public information in order to get higher sales. Talk about an unknown invasion of privacy, right? I feel like now every time I walk into Target, I’m just going to think about how they strategize at the expense of our privacy. Although I agree it’s a great strategy to draw customers in and keep sales at a high rate, I don’t think its necessarily fair to use people’s personal information.

  2. Although I think it’s a great marketing strategy that Target has (and I love Target as any other human does) it is kind of unsettling that we are being tracked. It reminds me of the Ted talk about search engines and the web tracking our information to “personalize” our experience with the web. It’s obviously a very effective strategy but it is freaky. With new technolgoy comes more information and the sharing of information so it makes sense that while it can be used to aid us it also can be used against us.

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