Coffee, Swiffers, "good sweats" and understanding your target market segment (when it’s me)


I love Target. No need to fluff it up by calling it “Tar-jay”. Nope, it’s just Target and I love it. I like to never run out of stuff. Six rolls of paper towels? Check! Four bottles of shower gel? Check! I buy home stuff there to experiment with color and style before I commit to buying something more expensive. I buy t-shirts and sweats (I went to college with that Mossimo guy so it’s a little weird to buy his stuff but good for him). Batteries, garden hose, chewing gum. Check, check and check! Being smart enough to not pay too much is kind of a point of pride for me and aesthetically, I can’t stand Wal*Mart so Target is my place. I can spend hours in there. I can go in for one thing and walk out after spending some serious cash.


In the past, I’ve noticed that they really showed some understanding of their target market. You could tell they were not only focused on people on a tight family budget but also on weirdos like me. They added  “good sweats” and lots of exercise clothes to their clothing departments (it’s like they know me, I swear). Hey, if I wear a target t-shirt with my Lucky Jeans and my Ann Taylor jacket, who is going to know?


They just started to renovate my local Target. According to the gal at the check out lane, it won’t be finished until November, but one thing that is complete? The Starbucks inside the Target. I kid you not. I can grab a grande, non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte while I am indulging my cheapness and fear of commitment to decor choices. I’m sure there are some market research people at Target (and Starbucks for that matter) that can tell you all about the phsychographics of people like me. Feel free to speculate as to what they call my customer segment. Hah! Yeah, they figured out that everyone that visits Target might not want a greasy hot dog and a slurpy (though it seems that is still available). And that if I am sipping a coffee drink, I might spend more time wandering around picking up things other than that one thing I came in for. Good on you Target and Starbucks! Two great things that taste great together.


Speaking of coffee, I just received an e-mail notifying me that a Peet’s Coffee has just opened in Redmond. Oh happy day! It is interestingly close to the soon-to-open Whole Foods Market (a food store that doesn’t stock sugar-free anything….so doesn’t really get my coffee money), but does draw people that are willing to pay more (significantly, in my opinion) for quality. If I were Peet’s, that would be a customer base I’d be looking at. I’ve mentioned my everlasting love for Peet’s (mocha java…mmm). Now I won’t have to pay for shipping.


When it comes to consumer marketing, I think that the coffee companies (well, some of them) are getting it right. OK, every now and then, there’s a goof. Maybe the market didn’t love those music stations or the hot granola. But by-and-large, I think that the coffee companies, given that the market has expanded so much over the last 10-15 years (I think I became aware of Starbucks in the early nineties) have had a huge opportunity to either shine or stink up the place. While consumer packaged goods, from a retail marketing perspective, may have been the place to be in the past (and don’t get me wrong, I love that there are about 12 different kinds of Swiffer available), I think that Starbucks and Peets (in some sense, the anti-Stabucks and there’s room in my heart for both for different reasons) are showing those other companies how it’s done in the retail space.  

Comments (25)

  1. Heather, a very interesting post.

    As an occasional cross-dresser I can attest to Target’s complete understanding of their shoppers’ psychographic and, like you, appreciate being able to indulge myself on a modest budget. However, I must take strong exception at the implied poo-pooing of Wal*Mart which also understands its shoppers just as well. After all, dungarees don’t go too well sequined flip flops but even at Wal*Mart it’s possible.

    I would love to go shopping with you, Heather. We could have fun. You gently guiding me to more flattering outfits and my treating you to coffee… :0)

  2. Margo says:

    There happens to be a target across the street from my office building, and I must say, I would LOVE if a Starbucks opened up in there…  I do firmly believe though that the two best places I can get already popped popcorn happen to be in Target and at Trader Joes.  I prefer the Trader Joes Lite popcorn (just canola oil and a little salt, reminds me of when my mom used to make it on the stove in a saucepan).  

    There is nothing more wonderful than walking around shopping with your purse and a bag of delicious popcorn in the child seat of your cart.  Sometimes I shop so long my popcorn has run out!

    The one thing I loved about Target was their "We are cheap, but more up-scale than Wal*Mart and we are definitly NOT K-Mart" feel.  I definitly think from the get-go they really defined quality.  I unfortunately once had to duck into Wal*Mart for a pair of Jeans when I was on a trip.  I remember looking at the sizes thinking, "My god, I am a 15?" when I know I am not above a 6.  At least Target stays within "accepted" size standards!

    I think the attention to details that Target has perfectly compliments the lifestyles of its customers, and adding a Starbucks only further enhances it.  But they better not lose my popcorn.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Recruitomatic- I’d probably just recommend staying away from the sequined flip-flops. The sequins clearly make them evening flip-flips.

    Margo – I bet they don’t lose the popcorn. I wonder what they would do if I took pictures of our store. It may look a little odd to them but it’s a pretty beautiful thing, this store make-over. I agree with you that Target has defnitely differentiated with the look and feel of their store.

  4. tod hilton says:

    Oh man, Target is da-bomb [how’s that for some retro-80’s speak]! They’re building one just down the road from our house and we can’t wait!

    Also of note, a Costco is going in right next door to the Target…I will never need to drive more than 2 miles from my home now. 🙂

  5. eR0CK says:

    Interesting post, my mother will be happy to hear that some Targets in the US are adding Starbucks to their buildings.

    I too discover that I often buy more than what I planned.  Often times I’ll see something similar to what I was going to buy elsewhere (express, j.crew, etc) and purchase the item at Target because it’s cheaper and looks almost identical.  Is that marketing, I think so!

    I on the other hand have never ever tried coffee, haha.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh tod, I am envisioning 20 pound bags of chicken at your house. One thing that I did to accomodate my bargain hunting is (you are going to think I am crazy) buy a chest freezer for the garage. I can keep big bags of chicken and other frozen foods and bags of ice in there. I had one-too-many trips to Costco that resulted in my having to re-arrange my entire freezer to squeeze everything in. It was also back in tne days when I was doing Jenny Craig (so lots of frozen food filling the freezer each week). I’m not saying that everyone would want to do this, but it’s pretty convenient.

    eRock-hopefully more Targets are doing this. I do the same with the clothes purchases, especially if it’s something trendy that I’ll want to toss at the end of the season (by toss I mean give to Goodwill, of course).

    Do you think Target knows how much I love them?

    Do you remember the first time you walked into a Target? I do. It was in the San Fernando Valley (like, oh my god!). I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Must have been 1992.

  7. tod hilton says:

    A freezer is a good thing. We have an extra refrigerator in our garage to handle the overflow. And yes, we buy the big bags of chicken breasts at Costco…almost every trip. :-

  8. eR0CK says:

    First time I went to a Target was probably around the same time (1992), I couldn’t have been any older than 9, but I remember being happy to be there because I was chomping down on some ‘yummy’ popcorn (courtesy of Target) following my mom around shopping.  haha

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh eRock, did you have to go there? I think I was 23 : )

    Hey tod, now we know where the BQ is : )

  10. mom says:

    Hey, Heather, my Target has a Starbucks too!  And . . The Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter is about $2.00 less per jar than my regular grocer.

    I wonder if somehow they are owned by parent co of Pottery Barn.  I always see shelves, tables and other occasional stuff at Target that is too similar to what I see at PB to be a coincidence.

  11. Simone says:

    I’m there the second they start selling Prada.

  12. MSDNArchive says:

    My wife and I try to escape the kids on a date at least a couple times a month, and inevitably we end up at Target at the end of the night. And I know we’re not alone in this, because every single time we go there we see people we know.

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    mom- I think it’s called knock-offs. I’m sure someone knows who owns Target. My latest favorite purchase there is the sugar free sports drink mix. But now they are out of it at my store. I have to check online.

    Simone-Prada at a Target price? I’l stand in line for that.

    cbuck…cute! You can buy her a coffee and she can let you push the cart. The draw of Target is strong. I can see it as the end to a good date-night. Do you start at one end and work your way to the other end? I got left to right.

  14. I recently moved from New York and upon realizing that Fred Meyers owns Seattle, I set out to find my own little piece of home, Target.  There is just something about the store that makes me want to walk down every aisle, regardless of whether or not I really need a new bedsheet or the newest season of Seinfeld :]

    Heather, I shop at the Redmond Target too, and noticed that they called it "Greatland".  What does that mean?  I haven’t noticed anything great about it, it just seems like a normal Target.

    .

  15. Lauren Smith says:

    Weird. Weren’t we just discussing how supermarkets were romantic hotspots? Maybe it’s not supermarkets but Target stores that are the real romantic spots.

    Hi, I couldn’t help but notice you looking at the Big and Tall rack.

    Yeah. I’m looking for something new.

    Me too.

    I’m not usually this forward, but would you like to have go grab a 32oz Coke and some nachos?

    I’d love to.

    *smoochy smoochy*

  16. mrscrooge says:

    Theres been a Peets in redmond forever? Well, not close to work but it is(was?) at the Larry’s in Redmond off the Redmond Way exit

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Derek, me too! I want to make sure I have a chance to see everything. Must have something to do with their inventory turnover. I’m not sure when they added that Greatland thing. I am sure it means they have something that other targets don’t have. Of course, you know I quiz their employees about what is going in during the remodel (I can’t help myself). They are getting a pharmacy but they arne’t getting groceries. The stuff at the front of the store is already looking pretty nice.

    Lauren Smith-Um, yeah. I still don’t buy it. Well, I don’t buy the notion of going there to meet people. For me, there’s a line between general friendliness (and I may be known to chat with people in the aisles if we are looking at the same product or something) and pick-up lines. My "don’t mess with me, I am looking for bathroom cleaner" persona stands at the ready. I think it’s great that Christian and his wife end date night there. But I wouldn’t recommend going there to find a date. With that whole smoochy smoochy thing, I think your pick-up routing needs some work, Lauren …hee! Perhaps one of your participants should have recommended a secret meeting in the lawn and garden section. Ew.

    mrscrooge- that’s not a real Peet’s, it’s just a Peet’s counter at Larry’s. They don’t have the full line of beans and stuff. Besides, you go there and you aren’t hanging out at Peet’s, you’re in Larry’s (which is fine if you were shopping anyway, but not exactly a comfy atmoshpere for hanging out with your cup of coffee). Who knows if it will stay around with Larry’s financial troubles. CAn’t remember the last time I was there. I’m loving the new PCC on Avondale though.  

  18. RJD says:

    "Greatland" is like a Super-Target.  Usually has an expanded grocery section.  They don’t build too many these days, it’s kind of an old concept.

    My first Target memory is about 1986/1987.  We "always had one" in Louisville, and they had the best music section at the time.  Huge selection and best price.  The only reason I remember this is because I had to drive my kid sister to dance class (being a newly licensed driver and mom eager for a break).  Rather than hang out and watch 9-year olds learn to dance, I went to the Target nearby and bought Invisible Touch on casette.  It was a swell moment.  They were obnoxiously red back in the day.

    Ours is about 18 months old, but I hope they add Starbucks anyway–closest ‘bucks is about 20 min.  The new prescription bottles are awesome.

    Pottery Barn and Target are separate companies.  Pottery Barn is actually owned by Williams Sonoma.

  19. Brian says:

    About Starbucks in Target… The store 5-10 minutes from me has had a Starbucks since it opened in 2000. In fact, in that particular shopping plaza, there are three locations that serve starbucks, the Starbucks store, Barnes and Noble and Target.

    As far as I can tell there are 3 different kinds of target.

    SuperTarget –  has everything but the kitchen sink

    Greatland – has more stuff than a normal Target

    Target – the smaller retail store, sometimes it has more variety than the SuperTarget in certain departments.

  20. Tim says:

    Not to be the naysayer (wait, maybe so) but am I seem to be the only person left in America who is not crazy about Target. I think it must have been those great ad campaigns that got everyone so stirred up about them. (Plus the clothes, yes, Heather, I realize it’s the clothes, too.) We had one open up *gasp* in the middle of Los Angeles in West Hollywood. And if I told you celebrities showed up to open up a Target, would you believe me?  I just went through a phase of trying to not buy a lot of stuff from China (hey, it keeps me creative in my old age) and I noticed almost nothing in Target, or Wal*Mart for that matter was made outside of China. I was even willing to accept Pakistan and Thailand. Okay, maybe not the end of the world, but it gave me an interesting look at American economics. Maybe it would have been different if I had had a latte first.

  21. Tim says:

    Oh, yes, I’ve been to that one! (Think it’s a Greatland.) My wife goes to the one in Eagle Rock. Been to the Culver City one. Wow, they should do like a Hard Rock Cafe thing with T-shirts that say, "Target: Eagle Rock", don’t you think?

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, I’m not into the Hard Rock thing.I thought they did a good job of integrating their logo into some of their clothing lines. ANyone remember the raincoast with the red and pink targets?

  23. Nick Roy says:

    A Starbucks in a Target. Now that is a marriage made in heaven. I wish Publix would have get a Starbucks in their stores.

    Publix Super Markets also has a good understanding of their target market. Their stores are located in more upscale neighborhoods. The prices are slightly higher to cater to those higher income "families." They are now creating new retail formats, such as the GreenWise Market to compete with the likes of Whole Foods. They have also experimented with Publix Pix, a chain of convience stores.

    Now if Publix can only get a cafe with a hotspot, I will be happy.

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    I experienced the new Whole Foods in Redmond yesterday (and it shares a parking lot with Peet’s)…oh yeah…it makes me very happy. They have the little sushi bar with the plates passing you by on a conveyor belt. Can’t wait to have lunch there (but not with my dad…I bought sushi at the Mariner’s game yesterday and I think looking at it made him turn a little green. He’s not a fan of raw fish).