(Photo by Derek Davis/Staff photographer)
Target had a big win in its home business late last year with a collection by Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia and its modern farmhouse aesthetic is honey for many of Target’s shoppers, who want a touch of Joanna’s signature old-is-new style. The product line’s appeal is its distinctive, yet familiar and comfortable design at prices everyone can afford.
But for other shoppers Target needs to attract – Millennials who are in their prime for home-related purchases – it may not their cup of tea. Urban Millennials in their first (and likely small) apartment or home leaning towards a more contemporary design that won’t clutter tight spaces may not be drawn to that farmhouse-inspired look. Now Target has a home line designed for them: Made By Design.
Target sets the table in a statement: “Guests – especially those establishing their first homes – crave quality everyday items that will simplify their lives and complement their ever-evolving style – all without compromising affordability.” It also notes that most items in the extensive 750+ product line will be priced under $30.
The Made By Design product line, heavy on basic housewares including bedding, bath accessories, storage containers, kitchen tools and furniture, will be available in Target stores and on Target.com beginning June 23.
The company uncovered this gaping hole in its home product mix by studying what their guests were and weren’t buying in the home department. They discovered that after shopping at Target for more decorative items, customers would then to go to Ikea, Kohls, Bed Bath & Beyond or Walmart for basic, everyday housewares. The Made By Design line is the company’s answer.
“Target is clearly waking up from a long merchandising sleep in home, so this should be good,” said Warren Shoulberg, fellow Forbes.com contributor.
Design inspiration through research
Taking a cue from Steve Jobs who said, “the broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have,” Target spared no expense in researching the kind of basic product designs and features customers wanted most in their homes. The company claims developing this product line was “the most extensive guest research we’ve ever done.”
Under the direction of Mark Tritton, EVP and chief merchandising officer who joined the company in 2016 after serving as president of Nordstrom Product Group, a group of in-house designers were tasked to create the line. “Made By Design is the ultimate expression of our DNA – a commitment to democratization of impeccable design,” he said.
In researching the design specifications for the new products, Target went into the homes of people it was designing for to identify needs and pain points. The “a-ha” moment came when the researchers asked to look inside the kitchen cabinets. The research subjects were taken aback and invariably apologized for the state their cabinets were in. This was the inspiration for making the kitchenware products stackable.
Commenting on Target’s guest-first approach, Julie Guggemos, SVP of product design and development, said in an interview, it “all start[s] with the guest and understanding the functional attributes. And the pieces of design just fall into place.”
Bringing back “Tarjay”
For Target, a lot is riding on the success of the Made By Design product line. It is one of three new product lines that CEO Brian Cornell promised in the 2017 annual report letter are “on pace to generate more than $1 billion each in annual sales.”
With 19% of the company’s $72 billion in revenues last year dependent upon home furnishings and décor, the Made By Design line will provide back-to-basics housewares that will undergird its other in-house brands. The new line will complement Target’s classic Threshold furniture and furnishings product line, which reportedly does $2 billion in sales a year, as well as its midcentury modern Project 62 line. The Made By Design looks are designed to seamlessly blend with all its other home product lines, even Hearth & Hand with Magnolia.
In combining good design with functionality that fits the lifestyle of home-hungry millennials at prices they – and everyone else – can afford, Target is well on its way to achieving its ambitious $1 billion sales goal.