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Target's decision to collaborate with Neiman Marcus was
Marlin Levison/Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Date published: 1/12/2013
STAR TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS)
Just as Homer Simpson once yelled "be funnier!" at his TV set, shoppers looked at the holiday season's Target + Neiman Marcus collection and wished it were cooler--and cheaper.
Target Corp. had high hopes for the high-profile collection to ignite early December receipts, but sales fizzled instead in a ho-hum holiday season. That's one reason the Minneapolis-based retailer reported flat sales for December.
Target forgot "expect more, pay less" with the collection, said Amy Koo, an analyst with Kantar Retail consulting near Boston. Many items appeared to be too high-priced, and shoppers who were focused on getting a good deal weren't seeing the value, she said.
"Folks were looking for a gift to share--a scarf, a shirt or a dress--but they were too expensive," she said. "Target needs to re-evaluate the price point and the quality of the product."
Koo calls the collection a "miss" for Target, but the retailer is not giving up on collaborations with designers, Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said. It has a number of programs planned for 2013, including a Prabal Gurung collection that will debut Feb. 10.
But working with another retailer won't necessarily be in the mix.
"We continue to redesign the formula with every collaboration," Thomas said. "Not everything works. Each program and model is different."
Target hoped that its collaboration with Neiman Marcus and 24 designers would duplicate the selling frenzy generated by its Missoni collection in 2011, when eager shoppers crashed the retailer's website.
Initial indications were promising when the collection debuted on Dec. 1. Online traffic for the collection on the first day was on par with Black Friday numbers. "Millions of guests shopped this collection," Thomas said.
As the days and weeks went on, however, curious customers shopped the collection, but few were buying it. The entire line was discounted 50 percent on Dec. 20 and 70 percent on Jan. 1, prompting analysts and shoppers to wonder what happened.
Ava Beilke of St. Louis Park, Minn., said the line initially interested her, but she was put off by an assortment that seemed too frivolous (a flask) or too expensive ($50 for a picture frame) at a time when people were spending conservatively.
"The things seemed unnecessary," she said. "Maybe they need to collaborate with more-affordable designers like Coach," said the social media specialist.