Is Target Australia’s transformation fueled by marketing research?

Target Logo

If you ever shop at Target, you are probably familiar with their “do you have flybuys?”, “fill out our survey and go in the draw for a $1000 gift card” or “Tell us your experience” lines.

When you first enter their website, a popup asks you to fill out yet another survey so they can improve their website. Loads of data collected but quantity does not equate to quality. Marketing research is the gathering of data or facts needed to make marketing decisions (Iacobucci, 2014, p. 199). Any organisation can accumulate as much data as they want but the question is – how can they capitalize on that data turning it into successful marketing campaigns?

Data, data and more data

Big data is the “collection, analysis and generation of insights from a wide variety of data sources in order to be able to improve business performance” (Fitzsimmons, 2013). Target assigns a unique ID code to each new customer. Every time that customer uses a credit card, flybuys card, coupon, get a refund, fill out a survey, use the website, open Target’s email or call their helpline, it is linked to that unique ID.

“We want to know everything we can”

“We want to know everything we can”, says Andrew Pole, a statistician employee of Target USA . Target can also buy data to access more information associated with that ID such as ethnicity, marital status, number of children, which magazines they might read, where they live and much more. Is this data reliable, valid and representative of the segment of consumers you are analyzing it for? Of course this data is useless, unless analysed effectively and turned into an effective decisions that solves a problem. So what does Target do with all that data?

Target Australia’s transformation to enhance customer’s shopping experience

Data-driven or big data marketing is the “collecting, analyzing and execution of insights from structured and multi-structure data such as big data across the enterprise to drive customer engagement, improve marketing results and measure accountability” (Arthur, L, 2013, p. 48). Target Australia is currently undergoing a transformation and rebranding and it seems they want more customer engagement.

Number 1 on their transformation strategy list is to enable outstanding customer experience (WesFarmers annual report, 2015; page 38). And customers are loving the new experience that is the “next generation” Target stores. New shop layout with added extras for enhanced customer experience such as a café, clothing alteration service, T-shirt printing, beauty advisors and “click & collect” shopping – all designed to keep you shopping for longer.

Target’s newest marketing campaign in 2015 launching a jeans range designed by John Paul Gaultier, the “Find your jeans” campaign was in response to “insights that many women feel alienated by jean fits and sizes”. Obviously, the “insights” are driven by their marketing research surveys of what their female consumers want.

Mobile Marketing

According to emarketer, mobile advertising is set to exceed $100 billion in 2016 accounting for 51% of digital marketing.  As a part of their transformation, Target has launched a new mobile app which is more interactive and has more features like product scanning and pricing. The ios app is said to have been driven by customer surveys. Target staff spent “weeks in store speaking to customers” leading to the release of the app. The app could potentially lead to more data showing which products customers are interested in and whether pricing is an issue anywhere anytime. Neural and behavioural studies have shown that consumers can associate pricing with value and that the “sequence of information during a purchasing decision alter the mechanisms underlying product evaluation and influence choice behaviour” (Karmarkar, 2015, p. 476). And Target certainly plays up the lower prices tagline.

Personalised one-on-one marketing

In 2012, Target USA store hit the news because they figured out that a teenager was pregnant before her father did and had sent her baby promotional material. Through predictive modelling and analysis of big data, Target could tell if a particular customer was pregnant and then tailor their marketing to that particular customer.

It seems that 47% of Australian marketers are already using predictive methods to analyse what will deliver the most relevant, personalized customer experience. Although we are not privy to the actual results of Target’s marketing surveys, we can certainly see the outcomes in their transformation.

So, what would Target’s future marketing scene look like?

Wind the clock forward 5, 10 maybe 15 years, what should we expect from the brand that claims to provide quality  at affordable prices for the whole family? The following clip is one possibility – more interactive, enhanced experience, marketing delivered to the customer in real-time with maybe a bit of artificial intelligence thrown into the mix perhaps?…… I can’t wait to see that.

Published by Patricia Vietheer (215464584)


Arthur, L 2013, ‘Big data marketing: Engage your customers more effectively and drive value’, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey USA, Part II, p. 48.

Fitzsimmons, C 2013, ‘Big data? Big deal’, BRW, Fairfax Media Management Pty Limited, USA.

Iacobucci, D 2014, Marketing Management (MM), 4th Edition, South-Western, Cenage Learning, Mason, Chapter 15.

Karmarkar, U, Shiv, B, Knutson, B 2015 ‘Cost Conscience? The neural and behavioural impact of of price primacy on decision making’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. LII pp. 467-481 doi: 10.1509/jmr.13.0488

WesFarmers 2015 Annual Report,

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