On Target: How the World’s Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull’s Eye

OnTargetOnTarget: How the world’s hottest retailer hit a bull’s-eye (2003) by Laura Rowley is a book about Target, one of the largest retailers in the country.  Ms. Rowley has an interesting background- she is a former seminary student and a producer for CNN business news. It is this background, her desire to understand the “external world and the internal one”, that motivates her to start the book by remembering her interview with Edward Yardeni (chief economist at Deutsche Bank”) who told her: “Other countries have discovered that the meaning of life is shopping” (emphasis mine).

The book is divided into 11 chapters, which together provide a good overview of the history of Target, its present position in the industry, and what makes Target a unique company in a business dominated by a 800-pound Gorrilla (read Walmart!).  It does a good job reviewing the early days of Target and “the legend of George Draper Dayton“, the founder of Dayton’s Dry Goods Company, the precursor to Target. George Dayton belonged to “a long line of pioneers” and counted among others “Jonathan Dayton, the youngest signor of the U.S. constitution and the namesake for Dayton, Ohio”.

Ms. Rowley’s book is written in an interesting style. After every chapter she has a “check out” aisle where she provides a brief summary of points that she thinks makes Target special. I can’t really say I particularly liked this “check out” section, and in a way I am not sure how it helps the reader, except in the sense of providing a sort of summary to the chapter. I did like, however, that the last chapter in Ms. Rowley’s book is about “challenges” that Target is likely to face in the first decade of the new century. Of course, the decade is now about over and the challenges Target faces are from over.



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95 responses to “On Target: How the World’s Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull’s Eye

  1. Sumit Kaushik

    Target-discount chain with the trademark bull’s-eye, founded in 1962 by Minnesota-based department store Dayton’s became popular during the mid-1990s and is still a success story today. Through its edgy products, innovative store designs, memorable image campaigns, and remarkably generous philanthropy, Target has developed itself in an enticing, unmistakable brand. Low prices and quality products alongwith human touch make Target different from other discount stores. Clean environment and impeccable customer service make shopping at this store much more enjoyable to the customers. Target’s exclusive merchandising partnerships with designers like Michael Graves, Mossimo, and Todd Oldham has not only removed the stigma traditionally attached to discount store shopping, but also provided competitive opening price points on “everyday” products with large selections of high-margin designer brands to the customers. It was one of the first retailers to use real-time Customer Relationship Management system to improve service. The company not only has recruited internal crew of trend spotters to check out for the season’s hot color, shape or material but also has given chances to lesser-known designers to get fame in the market by showing their innovative ideas and work in the discount chain’s products.

    Comment- While reading, I realized – it is not just a business book, it’s an entertainer too. It pretty much started with customer’s responses to the question –“What actually shopping on Target means to them”? It showcases challenges faced by the companies in retail industry in establishing themselves in the mind and heart of customers and how company like Target retain those customers by providing quality products at low prices alongwith giving human touch in it’s services. It also tells you how much important vision and mission are to a company and how management implement their goals to achieve them by planning and working on those things which no other company can think off.

  2. Mara Schwartz

    Target was founded by Dayton’s, formerly a department store, and positioned itself where few retailers had ventured: upscale discount stores. While it took some time for Target to become a household name, especially in the northwest, it eventually created a large following and transformed into a highly successful store in a segment that analysts originally thought would never succeed. Due to the store environment and aura, customers claim to spend up to three hours in the store wandering around when they initially only planned on going in to buy a few things. Many purchases are impulsive, and consumers tend to wander into different sections of the store they had not been exposed to, and become devoted fans. Target’s ability to draw high-end designers to develop product lines for its company continues to wow customers and competitors alike.
    While Target has many notable accomplishments, the beginning of the book rarely touches upon much of Target’s struggles. It seems as if Laura Rowley is trying to convince readers of how great Target is. Every time I read a few pages in the book, it makes me want to go shop at Target because, as one fan puts it, “…when you go into Target you think, yeah, maybe this is the perfect world. It’s like the sun shines. Things are orderly, they’re where they’re supposed to be, people want to help you, they’re friendly to you.” It is hard not to question what challenges Target had to face to get this fabulous reputation, and what business choices did not fare well so that best practices could be learned. As readers learn more about Target in the book, it would be nice to see how they handled all of the road-bumps all companies continuously face.

  3. Chieh-Fu Chao

    “Expect more, Pay less” is Target’s slogan. Shopping at Target is so different from shopping at Wal-Mart or Kmart. For example, the lighting is brighter, the aisles are cleaner, the service is better, the merchandise is well organized…etc. Indeed, Target provides a better and pleasing shopping environment for its customers. Its heritage plays an important rule of running this unique type of discount store. Actually, in 1962, Target was founded by Dayton’s department store which has a great reputation for quality products, low prices, and great services. Besides its pleasing shopping environment and excellent customer service, Target also has several unique marking strategies such as seasonal housewares, Customer Relationship Management systems, distinguishing advertising, high quality of private label goods, affordable designer brands, and charitable contribution for the communities.
    After reading the book on target, I realized why I love to go shopping at Target so much. I remembered When I first time went to the store, I thought everything here at target must be way more expensive than Wal-Mart. Target is so clean, bright, and comfortable. However, after seeing the price on the product I was interested in, I was so surprised it was even cheaper than Wal-Mart. This book tells me more about Target’s propositions, visions, marketing strategies, and the differences from its competitors. I can feel Target not only truly cares about its customers’ shopping experiences, but also willing keeps improving the qualities of the products at fair prices.

  4. Adam Volpe

    The other comments have done a nice job describing Target, what it is and how it has shaped into such a successful discount chain today. One of the things that stuck out to me the most so far, has been Target’s approach to the customers’ thought process. It was not until this book that I realized the dramatic difference between shopping in a Wal-Mart versus shopping in a Target. As a young male, I don’t spend a whole lot of time shopping, and when I do I don’t think I am nearly as observant as some customers who spend a lot of their days shopping in stores. However, after reading this book, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the set-up and styles offered by Wal-Mart. After wandering into a nearby Target store, I immediately noticed some of the differences the novel had mentioned. The clutter-free, noise-free, helpful, stylish environment is something that stuck out to me right away. In Wal-Mart, they often have so many products packed onto each shelf it is difficult to locate some items you need. In Target, however, they focus on clear labeling/organizing, and I noticed the shelves were much shallower, helping the customer search each aisle more comfortably.

    Personally, I am not a shopper who will be won-over because Target teams-up with stylish designers to create hip clothing at discount rates. However, the advantage to this strategy for Target has become crystal-clear. While I may not be focused on shopping for clothing, there are many customers who come into Target not searching for clothing, and end up buying some items once they found them in the store. I think this is a major reason as to why Target Corporation has continued to do well since its’ inception. When shoppers go into a Wal-Mart, they usually know what it is they are looking for, and once they have found it they do not want to spend any more time in the store than they need to, due to the nature of the store, the noise and the clutter involved with the Wal-Mart shopping experience. In a Target store, a customer can easily find what they are looking for, but also is much more willing to peruse the aisles on the way back to the checkout counter. It is during this period of the shopping experience I think Target stands out from the rest. If you offer cool, stylish products in your store any customer who is on their way to the checkout counter will be much more willing to stop and look at those cool items because of their reasonable price point. In a Wal-Mart store, I find this rarely happens. And if it does, it usually means I stopped at a huge stand in the middle of the cart-aisle offering a big discount. (Big-clutter)

    When I first read the novel, I assumed that the people who were coming into the store for maybe one or two items and leaving with a two or three hundred dollar purchases were just high-income individuals looking for some discretionary spending. However, when I went into the Target myself, I quickly learned that to not be the case. Despite not having extra discretionary income, I found several items which I liked that I wasn’t even considering purchasing. For example, while I was walking through the Target store here in Binghamton, I found a really nice coffee table for our living room for $29.99! Once I saw it, I bought it. And I had not entered the store in search of anything, I only stopped in to see if what “On Target” was saying was true even in its’ Binghamton store.

    It is the relationship Target has established with its independent designers, manufacturers and customers that has allowed it enjoy such high levels of success. I hope as I continue to read the novel I gain more insight as to what Target is doing now and what they hope to do in the future in order to continue this trend.

  5. rich white

    On Target, by Laura Rowley, is a book that just like the subtitle suggests, details how the world’s hottest retailer hit a bull’s-eye. The book begins by discussing just how Target has been able to separate itself from the pack and become as successful as it is. Rowley interviews Mark Gobe, owner of a New York City branding and design firm, who believes that “We are living in a time where we are losing control of our own lives—technologies move faster than we do—and globalization is a concept that is very hard to completely embrace.” As a result, Gobe suggests that people are now looking to brands and experiences for solutions in their lives and also for reassurance that the human touch still exists. Rowley then goes on to argue that by possessing the “holy trinity of a winning business model,” Target’s product, service and image have been able to successfully fill the voids in their customers. She also goes on to say a fourth element, philanthropy, is working its way into this model, and Target is very effective at meeting this need within consumers (this book was first published in 2003 so I think we can all agree that the element of philanthropy has most certainly become almost a must-have in a company’s business model). As a result of the way Target meets and delivers the four attributes to consumers, Rowley states that it has made “Target the home of the upscale bargain hunter.” And really, that’s what the first four chapters are about- how Target has identified its target market, how Target has reached agreements with various companies to create unique-to-Target lines of products for these customers, and how has developed and implemented successful advertising and promotional campaigns around its brand and targeted customers.

  6. Adam Volpe

    Going through the middle portion of the book, “On Target” continues to discuss the background of the store’s family of ownership, the Dayton’s. The novel described the upbringing of several important family members, and how that upbringing along with their strong values, influenced the creation of the Target chain and is a large reason for its success. The book also gets in to how Dayton’s was one of the first corporations to be involved in the “malling” of America. After the first mall, (with a Dayton’s inside) many more structures popped up throughout the country during the 1960s. They also describe the eventual shift from department store domination to a discount-store based model.

    One of my favorite sections of the book so far, is the reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s novel, “The Tipping Point”. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this novel, if you are at all interested in social epidemics and fashion trends that seem to just “get hot” all of a sudden, Gladwell’s approach is really interesting. This is one of my favorite books of all time and I can clearly see how Target experienced a “tipping point” when the trends of shoppers began to change.

    I think given the strong correlation between the values of the Dayton brothers and the values of the Dayton/Target stores; it speaks a lot to the value of having a corporate mission statement and set of values to help influence their employees. By not only training employees, but offering them educational and financial classes also helped them to become better people, not just better retail employees. This comes down to what Target is all about, and given its high commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, hearing this about the Target Corporation is not at all surprising. It is the strategy of giving, and understanding the employees and customers which has given Target the edge over its competitors over the last several decades. The executives at Target seem to be fully aware of this advantage, and I don’t think they will be changing anytime soon.

  7. Sara Schwartz

    “It’s cool to be frugal,” author Laura Rowly states in her book On Target: How the World’s Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull’s-Eye. This simple 5 word statement summarizes Target’s successful strategy in a nutshell. Years ago the idea of a bargain shopper was looked down upon by the upper middle class, almost a taboo topic. Today, values have shifted among this mass of Americans, and Target made sure they were there to satisfy the new ones. Both technology and right timing has helped to close the gap between designer and cheap. Through outstanding strategizing, Target was able to turn one of their biggest weaknesses, forming an alliance with brands to sell at discount, into their biggest strength, their own creative and innovative lines inspired by out of the box thinking. In the process they have successfully distinguished Target as its own brand, rather than simply a “mini-mall.” Together private branding and licensing agreements have added to the successful image of Target, making it “hip to be spare.”

    Laura Rowly states “there is now a psychological ‘high’ that has been correlated with a bargain purchase.” Prior to reading this book I have been a loyal Target shopper, choosing Target over department stores and Wal-Mart any day. After reading only part of this book about the Target Corporation I can’t help but view Target as America’s not-so-secretive “drug dealer.” By stepping foot into Target, American’s are able to experience an emotional high while walking through the store, seeing what they may find, and at what price. By linking the Target brand to such an emotional side, they have been able to create an extensive following, who will swear by Target. Furthermore, since they offer almost everything under the sun in superb quality at fair prices, this “following” increase their list of purchases at Target almost every day, just as a an addict might increase their doses, until they are exclusive Target shoppers. In doing so, Target is creating an addiction that American’s feel the urge, or need, to satisfy at an increasing rate. This urge is creating extremely loyal customers, as I am myself, and ensuring future demand for their products and services.

  8. Sylvia Chow

    The first five chapters of the book focus on explaining the various elements that make Target successful. Things such as real-time CRM systems that help tailor promotions to customers and enhance their loyalty; the employee-training concepts and program adopted from Walt Disney that focus on bettering customer service; the unique marketing approaches that establish the Target brand name; the company’s emphasis on styles and its appeal to upper-middle bargain hunters to differentiate from other discount retailers; the strategic licensing partnerships with lesser-known but quality designers that enable the company to deliver a sense of human touch – all of these pieces were put together to create a unique “Target experience.”

    Although Laura Rowley heavily stresses factors that contribute to Target’s success, she also shed lights on a number of “weak links” in the Target formula. For instance, its rigid return policy is running the risk of infuriating customers without receipts. The company’s communication system with vendors still has room for improvement to allow real-time (or close to real-time) information sharing like that exhibited by Wal-Mart’s Real Link. The labor practices that are mentioned in the update indicates the challenge in balancing costs and employee (or internal customer) satisfaction.

    One thing from the reading that reinforces what I have learned from the textbook and lectures is that corporate strategies are dynamic. They change with the environment and the industry. Target’s success not only builds on its ability to adjust strategic elements (such as marketing and promotion, merchandise, and commitment to philanthropy) to the evolving mentality of consumers with regard to discount retailers and the retail industry in general, but also on its flexibility and willingness to change its mission statement to address customer needs. This is exemplified in Target’s decision to change its mission statement to declare itself as an “assisted self-service” company rather than strictly self-service (68).

    I am interested in reading the next few chapters that illustrate the origin of Target Corporation and how its visions and values in customer relationship lay the foundation for a unique “Target experience.”

  9. Daniel Spence

    After reading the first portion of the book it is easy to see why Target has become a huge success. They have discovered a niche that no other retail chain has. That niche is high quality products at a low price. Not only have they discovered this niche but they are able to almost completely control it because they are the only company that has been successful selling quality for less. For example Walmart has attempted to sell high quality products like Target but they were not successful because their strategy is to sell low quality products at a very low price. Unlike other reatilers Target has been able to attract shoppers of all income levels because they have something for everyone. For example they offer high end clothing at a low price for individuals looking for designer clothes. But they also sell private label products for the shopers that do not have alot of excess cash to spend. Target also helps to set itself apart from other retail chains through its large donations to charity. In the book it mentions that since 1946 the company has given out 5% of its pretax profits to charity, this amounted to about $2 million a week in 2002. By giving out this much money to charity the company builds a great relationship with the communities that it locates in.
    Target has also worked to set itself apart from other retailers in terms of cleanliness and appearance. Personally I do shop at Target when I need to get something mainly because I find it to be much less crowded than a Walmart and it is also significantly cleaner. Whenever I have walked into Walmart the aisles typically have products all over the floor and the store is dirty. Target on the other hand has very wide walkways and rarely a product laying on the floor.

  10. Chen-Yu Tsai

    Before I came to United States, I’ve never heard of Target. Six months later, that was my first time to visit Target. And guess what? I found myself walked in Target more often than in Wal-Mart.

    Target is not a usual discount store. Generally speaking, it gives consumer a better shopping experience. For example, the aisles are wide enough to accommodate two shopping cart make consumer feel comfortable with this environment. And the store itself is bright and joyful. Besides the details of the shop, it offered superior design products with affordable price make it so popular even upper-class customers are willing to shop in Target. This special business model differentiates competition from Wal-Mart which focuses on cost-efficient.

    In my country, Taiwan, we do have lots of retail stores. However, these stores focus on price just like Wal-Mart do (We don’t have Wal-Mart). Yes, you will go there to shop and buy things you need, but you never stay there in order to find the designed and quality product. I think this is why Target can win people’s heart. And in my opinion, Target’s business model can apply to retail industry in my country. It would be a great hit and let the retail industry think how to deliver customer more value.

  11. Amy Smith

    “On Target” introduces the world of Target to readers—the things you intuitively know, but perhaps had grown to take advantage of. The year 2000 saw the emergence of “Target Corporation” as we know it today. Its popularity has grown through the years, and customers still today affectionately refer to it as “Tar-zhay”, to match it’s classy, upscale discount store appeal. Target has a “family feel”, and makes consumers feel as though they can go into a Target store and stay for an hour or two hours at a time, walk around and become engaged in the wonder that is a Target store. One line on page 40 read “Target delivers the human touch through communication, through their products, through the design of their stores and their people.” There is no music playing, there is a simple layout with wide aisles, and large overhead signs to direct customers. Another main attraction for Target is its premium merchandise, from famous designers—something it has worked hard to obtain. As evidenced with their Club Wedd, consumers are seeing Target as less of a discount store, and more of a department store. Target addresses customers who drive cars such as Rolls-Royces right down to Fords. It offers cookware from $199 to $19.99. This is a unique position for Target to occupy, and one that is has been successful with. They have private brands, such as Merona, Xhilaration, and Archer Farms, which are not seen as “taboo” as many other private brands can be perceived. They are of good quality, and affordable prices, and do not have the typical stigma attached with them. To finish off the Target experience, marketing and advertising is key. Advertisers are involved in the marketing projects, and Target clearly understands the needs of its target market.
    What immediately struck me is the idea of the family feel of Target. I am one of those people who go into Target for no apparent reason, spend about 2 hours, and walk out of the store with about $150 of merchandise. I was aware it was happening, but had no idea why. I am glad to know that I am not alone! The idea of a “human touch” was also mentioned a few times, which is also an interesting idea. In times of unrest, it is nice to escape for a while, and Target is an easy, convenient, and relatively easy-on-the-wallet therapy. One really can leave feeling better. However, I do not agree with the idea that Target is comparable to a department store. I feel that it is perhaps in a more middle level between a discount store and a department store. I was also interested to read about Target’s designers and fashion aspirations, because since discovering Target in 2006, I always find basic items for my wardrobe—and I am a very picky shopper. I have always been impressed with the value of Target’s fashions. I am interested in reading the further chapters to learn more about how Target has done exactly what it has done, because I am sure it has been a complex process to “get it right” they way they have.

  12. Adam Volpe

    The third portion of the book really began to get into some of the details behind Target’s operational standards and what sets them apart from the other discount retailers. The chapter on social responsibility and philanthropy really stood out to me. The hostile takeover example, in which members of the Minnesota community begged political leaders to make it more legally difficult for a company like Target to be acquired, is an amazing example of how building relationships with customers and the surrounding community has tangible business benefits. Target has been giving 5% of its pre-tax profits to charities and causes, starting its own Target Foundation. By offering products such as the Smart Card and “Take Charge of Education”, Target has been able to impact the lives of its’ customers in ways that Wal-Mart and K-Mart can never do.

    By remaining focused on the “Guides for Growth” initiatives, while also trying to constantly improve company operations, products and customer services, Target Corporation seems to be committed to differentiating itself in this manner.

    The way in which the executives acted demonstrated that they were fully in support of the company values, espoused through the “Guides for Growth” statement. Target executives encouraged honest feedback, and used that to improve the store.

    Honesty seemed to play a huge part in the book’s effort to describe why Target is different from the competitors. It seems clear to me that by offering full-refunds and offering price reductions on returned items went a long way towards Target customers feeling comfortable inside a store.

    The decisions made by Target since its inception in the 1960’s have been guided by the needs and expectations of customers. In the retail industry, nothing is more important than the customer, and how they feel when spending time in your store. Target has taken this approach to a new level, and through its company-wide efforts to streamline the customer experience (in a very positive way) it has set itself apart from all of the other discount retailers.

    In conclusion, I enjoyed reading the book. I learned a great deal about Target; and much of what I learned surprised me. The book definitely helped my opinion of Target and after reading it, it almost makes you want to become a Target-shopper just to feel like you are part of some broader effort. This is part of the culture that Target executives have worked hard to create, and that the Dayton brothers wished to establish when they began the retailing chain decades ago. A theme throughout the book is that you only need to be good at one thing to be relevant in a business industry; Target is a great example of how maximizing your efforts on treating the shopper with respect and thoughtfulness can go a long way towards solidifying yourself as a mainstream retailing competitor in a rapidly changing economic environment.

  13. Sara Schwartz

    The next part of On Target by Laura Rowley goes on to talk about the corporation’s service and technology initiatives. One thing Rowley points out is that Target did not always have high customer service ratings. It was their poor ratings that forced a turnaround amongst the corporation. They adopted Walt Disney Corporation’s training and service initiatives, and soon were heard calling customers “guests” and workers “team members.” With this new change, came a much larger change: a shift in the mission statement. They stated they were to strive to be an “assisted self-service” company, as opposed to a strictly self service company. They took additional initiatives to reduce turnover rates and ensure happy team members, for happy team members tend to provide happy experiences for “guests”. Furthermore, the corporation splurged on a new extranet called “Partners Online,” that enabled target and its suppliers to access the same database with the same information. Lastly, they watched their competition jump too fast into the e-commerce world, which created aggravated customers. Target took a more conservation approach, and slowly entered the e-commerce world, first using the website as a tool for brand awareness and additional customer service, not a sales engine. In fall of 2002, when a sales engine was almost a necessity, they turned over their web operations to Amazon, for it would take years and extensive capital for them to ever be able to meet such a standard as a sales engine.

    Target proves once again that they can take a weakness and turn it into an enduring strength. And what smarter way to cope with a customer service issue then to imitate one of the best customer service providers out there, Walt Disney Corporation. By creating Target University, they have created a medium to truly push their traditions and expectations onto their team members. Such initiatives can have a lasting impact on team members, both as workers, and as guests themselves. It shouts “Target Cares!,” and when people feel as if a corporation truly cares about the little people, the feeling will eventually become mutual. I have always felt this “human touch” when walking into Target as opposed to Wal-Mart. Just by looking at the workers themselves, one can tell where the majority of satisfied and happy works are, and it is most definitely not Wal-Mart. These initiatives have clearly proven to work and most definitely continue to add to its huge success.

  14. Joe Zahensky

    On Target starts off by talking about what sets Target apart from the competition. The author talked about the environment of Target stores and the fashionable merchandise that Target offers its customers. It is this type of merchandise that attracts many Target customers. Shoppers are always looking to save money, no matter what income level they have, and Target is able to offer its customers top-of-the-line fashion at a reasonable price. The author also talked about the advertising that Target did. They used many different agencies and made marketing themselves and their brand image very important to the company’s success.

    I found Target’s marketing strategy to be very interesting. They were always coming up with new ideas that helped them to create recognition for their brand. An example of this is sponsoring the Minnesota Timberwolves’ stadium; they were the first company to do this and got the ad at a much cheaper rate than other companies that followed in their footsteps. I agree with their marketing strategies because by marketing in ways that have not been done before, they are able to create more public attention for their products and, therefore, able to attract customers into their stores. I think that they have done a great job in portraying their brand and attracting the type of customer that they want.

  15. Rajesh Gandhi

    I just read the first two chapters of this book. In the first chapter, author talks about how Target is different from other discount stores. One main difference is its welcoming environment; Target makes sure that its stores look clean and has enough lighting to make the customers feel good. Also, the items are arranged in such a way that it makes the customers to buy those stuffs. Hence the environment has a direct correlation with its sales, which is evident from the fact that most customers who come to Target end up buying more stuffs than they require. In the second chapter, author briefs about the unique approach of Target in choosing its products. It monitors the other big stores to know the recent trends, once it finalizes on a product it approaches a less known, less expensive yet very good artists to work on the design. Once the stuffs are manufactured it is shipped to stores. The idea is to have trendy products at discount price.
    I think the idea of Target is to give customers an atmosphere of a big store at discount store’s price. I always go to Walmart. Hence, I never got an opportunity to compare its service with others. After reading the first chapter, I could imagine how Target will be in terms of its environment. The second chapter is simply amazing; the idea they used to come up with a cheaper alternative for new trendy products is really good. And the narrative way of elaborating this section was excellent.

  16. Kristen Greco

    The book “On Target” starts off by explaining how different Target is from all of its competitors. The management team takes pride in setting themselves apart by delivering a “human touch” through communication, their products, the store layout, the designers they work with, and their employees. People tend to gravitate towards Target because they are able to offer quality products at an affordable price, but they keep coming back for the atmosphere.

    The Dayton brothers, who launched Target in the 1960’s, have a refreshing perspective. Unlike so many other business leaders we read about everyday – they have morals. They were brought up with strong values and knew that if they took care of their company that it would take care of them – and now it has even been able to take care of numerous others. Target gives away 5% of pretax income in support of the arts, education, the environment and many other worthy causes.

    Target’s atmosphere is unlike any other retailer. They offer wide, organized aisles that are easy to roam through, no loud music, pleasant lighting, customer service phones, several check-out lanes, and much more. The store is designed to be welcoming and makes it so that a customer can find what they need quickly and easily and be on their way, but they are more than welcome to stay a while if they choose.

    Target’s management practices are innovative and fresh. Their use of supply chain management gives them the ability to shorten inventory lead times which, in turn, keeps the shelves stocked and also offers customers a variety of new items each time they return. Target is also one of the first retailers to use real-time Customer Relationship Managements systems. This allows employees to better serve their customers by keeping an up-to-date record of all customer transactions no matter how they were made (i.e. in store, online, catalog, etc.). The Targeteers (trend spotters) are also a unique way of determining what the hot new products of the season will be. By paying attention to the latest styles, Target is able to offer the newest trends sooner than their competitors and at lower prices. Finally, Target has also partnered up with many name brands in order to offer new product lines designed specifically for the customer and at lower prices.

    Customers are looking for a more personal experience as they shop and Target as found a way to provide this. The innovative techniques that they use really impressive and I view them as a role model for other retailers. Being a Target customer myself, this book makes you pick up on the little things you take for granted. Now that I look back, every time that I have gone to Target I have never had a problem finding anything or navigating through the aisles – and now I know why. They put so much effort into pleasing the customer and I feel that is the main reason why they have become so successful. As they say, “the customer is always right” and Target has realized this and actually been able to put this into practice.

  17. JIA TANG

    The book starts off by talking about the difference between Target and its rivals. Instead of capturing the interest of customers by low prices alone, Target made more effort to differentiate themselves from their rivals through the shopping experience. “There is no Muzak, no loudspeaker static… The lighting is bright, Grab a cherry red shopping cart and begin tooling around the store…” In addition, if you shop in SuperTarget, there is a Starbucks boutique and an E*TRADE financial zone. You will never get disoriented or lost because the overhead signs are in gigantic typeface and strong primary colors designating the various departments. In addition to offering customers a unique shopping experience by building a supremely welcoming environment, Target is also distinctive in its brand image. Unlike other retail stores, the impression target provides is of passion, youth, and style. Instead of emphasizing the “TARGET” brand name per se, it focuses more on marketing the “bull’s-eye” logo. “People who know the brand will get it, and people who don’t know the brand will want to know what it’s all about”. It is ingenious to firmly connect a visually potent icon to a brand itself and getting the help of existing customers to spread their reputation. Moreover, Target is innovative in tying itself to both low prices and fashion. Customers can always get top-brand-like style and quality clothing from target, and at a low price too. To achieve this, Target hires a number of fashion designers to design their products. Furthermore, it also sponsors key events in the fashion world, which helps to build a connection between Target and fashion. Having a creative marketing group also contributes to Target’s success. Rather than simply create ads to facilitate sales, they create programs such as Club Wedd, a bridal registry, helping generate more profits in advance. In the customers’ view, Target is not only a discount store but also more like a department store; they successfully built this unique image in customers’ minds. We might imagine that even if Wal-mart were to design products in this way, people may not buy them because it is not consistence with the “cheap” image they provide. All the issues mentioned above make people feel happy and comfortable shopping at Target, which also increases customer loyalty.

  18. ChihHua Chen

    From the first few chapters, I found that this book is not only a book tells a lot of insight of the national wide retailer, Target, but also provide opportunity to educate its readers about what a true “customer first” business is about. “Retail is about detail” A retailer so focus on details which benefit its customers, will no doubt earning immense respects from its customer and even business from its suppliers form all categories of industry. Ideas and innovation boost this great brand to higher level and helps this company to unique from other discount retailers. And thus prevent other companies from duplicate its business model.

    “Value is not all about price.” In Taiwan, there are many discount stores and retailer market is quite competitive. Those companies are so focus on their price that they end up not doing very well. This book provide me an idea that is if they could stop their so called “price war” and think more about what customers really desire and what they really valued, then everything could be different. They could focus more on their not so customer friendly environment and provide something different but beneficial that could not easily copied by their competitors. If they can do more things in detail I believe things might be totally different.

  19. Rebecca Rattmann

    Just by reading the first five chapters of the book, it is easy to see how Target has become so successful. Target differs from its competition on many aspects. When shopping at Target, the consumer does not need to deal with the cramped aisles, the poor lighting, and the long checkout lines. One of Target’s biggest advantages is the products it sells. Target’s products have the style of an expensive brand, but for a fraction of the price. Target brands have been expanded through “off-beat licensing deal with a wide range of designers” such as Michael Graves, Mossimo Gianulli, and Mark Ecko. This has worked so well for Target because of the shift in the way people view “no-name” brands. The brand name is starting to mean less and less to the consumer giving Target a competitive advantage. Consumers are starting to go to Target because the style is what matters, not the brand and why pay more for a similar style? Target’s advertising and promotions have also had a large impact on its success. One advertising approach Target took that has differed from its competitors was that it’s ads focused on evangelists first. This “is one reason that the Target brand has “tipped,” meaning that it has reached critical mass.
    When reading “On Target,” I wondered, “Why would anyone go anywhere else to shop? ” However, after reading an article on msnbc.com, I realized that Target has not been doing as well in the recent years as the book makes it sound. During the recession, many people have been turning to Wal-Mart to buy essential items. As consumers begin facing financial strains, shoppers focus more on the basics and saving money. As stated in the article, “about 37 percent of Target’s revenue comes from necessities like paper towels and food. For Wal-Mart, that figure is about 60 percent.” Even though Target is attempting to stress a “low-price” promise in their advertising, Wal-Mart is right at their side rolling out new programs too. It will be interesting to see if the shoppers who have turned to Wal-Mart during these tough financial times will remain loyal customers after the financial crisis has ended.


  20. Raman Vyas

    In business the key to success is how one business differentiates itself from its competitor’s .Target differentiated itself by “targeting “ upscale discount seekers where good products can be offered at a fair price with a bonus of human touch . As mentioned in the book one will see a customer with ferragamos in target but not in Wal-Mart. Target over the years has made stylishness its core competency. The key behind providing high quality merchandize at low prices is that target always looked to cut expenses. Target focused on Customer relationship , building brands , advertizing rather than just driving sales . When they ran in some kind of trouble the out of box thinkers in target converted the weaknesses of target into its strength such as in early days when target could not get brands they made their own brands . The smart management is one of the key success factor behind target’s success.

    Education and entertainment are different industries but if one can combine both to make something as Edu-tainment than learning can be fun. Loura Rowley does this in her book. I never knew about target’s business strategy but whenever I went there , I always felt that with comparison to Wal-mart, one spends few more bucks but gets better quality and better shopping experience which is not such a bad deal . Now knowing that this is the internationally done and is a well thought out strategy , I feel the idea is very unique , hard to copy and smart as hell.

  21. Yu Lin Lee

    At the beginning of “On Target”, the author pointed out how unique the Target is. One of the most important factors which Target can differentiate itself from others is that its sell “Target experience” and shoppers like this idea very much. Compared with other discount retailers, which most of them pretty much like factories or warehouses when people shopping in there, Target creates a clean, bright and welcoming shopping atmosphere and space for customers. More than that, its products with elements of colorful and fashion design even make customers willing to buy. When reading this book, I can easily connect with my joyful shopping experience which just likes the author’s description. I believe Target found a blue ocean strategy which makes it avoid price war and profitable.

    Year ago, before I came to United States, I read “M shape society”, which written by Kenichi Ohmae, a famous Japanese economist, on the flight. In the book, he introduces a successful business model and encourages Japanese company to apply. That is a company should provide better quality with slightly higher price which was affordable by most people. Half a year after, when I stepped into Target store, I can’t help to combine the concept I read from his book with Target business model because Target is the best example to demonstrate that business type. After reading first two chapters of “On Target”, I gained much more details regarding to this kind of business model. In fact, Target emphasizes a feeling of “human touch”, which delivers by its products, by the design of their store and by their people, and creates trends by taking lesser-known but still quality designers to design various products for it. Besides, target also provide expensive contracts to those designers who already famous in certain area. Despite Target spent a lot of money on investing designing things, these products came from designers still sell in a relative low prices, creating more incentive for customers to buy its stuffs. And this strategy not only caters to the upscale bargainer but also captures the middle-class who has relative lower salary, can’t afford luxury stuffs but still want to have some tastes in their lives.

  22. Abhinav Anand

    On Target!! Seems to have the perfect name for the kind of history it has. It has always hit the bull’s eye. It started booming at time when the retail was getting socially accepted, the recession of 1990 made people to look value for money in things they buy, almost all the initiatives the store took showed its vibrant colors, they gave the atmosphere of comfort and ease which apparently was not the case with other discount stores. The first of the three parts tells you more about the evolution of the organization to as we see it today. It tells how this company contributed for the major revenue for the organization, and eventually became the most prominent part of it. They had lot of competition before and today as well in the form of stores like Wal-Mart and sears.

    The store has the flair for design which attracted people from every income segment; to illustrate on this the star of “sex and the city” Sarah Jessica Parker went to the host show of Conan O’Brien in Target’s pajamas worth $12.99. Not only this even magazines like Vogue and In Style which are supposedly the trend setter for the market showcased the designs at Target. They quoted it by saying “Get the look for less”, and who would not love that. Initially buying a designer garment cost a fortune, and was worn by lucky few. It was because of the huge chain of target that these big designers entered the retail market. They got a platform to showcase and cater to a broader market segment. Initially they had some concerns entering as they saw few failures, and even saw Kelvin, Vanderbilt and Sassoon calling Target “outrageous and irresponsible”. If I portray the complete picture then I would say Target served as a shopping paradise for its customers. From the reviews and opinions from in-house designers to consumers one can definitely say “once a Targetier always a Targetier”.

  23. PeiChih Kao

    From the book, I learn the company culture and background of Target. Target is not a fancy, high-end retailer like Bloomingdale’s. Target is also not a low-end, discount store like Dollar Tree or Dollar General. Target positioned itself in a market offering good quality products with fair prices and creating a niche in retailer. Culture of Target plays an essential role for success and takes strategies to let customer discover more about themselves. Target sells quality, stylish and design products in low price to attract customers’ eyes. Dayton established a successful discount chain and fit in a segment differentiating itself from other competitors. Target focuses on the arrangements of supermarket and aim on middle and upper income customers. Clean, bright, neat and tidy shelves space display stylish products and the simple bolded color signals show the direction of each product category. Starbucks play with Target making customers feel more comfortable and easy during shopping and banking. Target brings a feeling with values to customers and put efforts to them have better shopping experiences. As the implementation of CRM system, Target representatives will be there for help when customers encounter products related questions.

    Successful formula for Target was differentiated themselves from competitors like Wal-Mart by using designers’ ideas and still keep competitive low price for bargain hunters. It’s so creative tracing back to 80’s; however, these tactics flood everywhere in now days and almost chain retailers use designers make their private label brand products. Retailers’ competition turns into a white heat stage on design product. It will be even harder to survive after economic recession if Target won’t think of new ideas and insert new elements into stores.

  24. Kristen Drumheller

    So far I have read the first couple of chapters of On Target, and I am very glad I chose this book to read. Target is unlike many other retail stores in that its primary focus is not on low prices, but on a pleasurable shopping experience. Management is very detail-orientated, which definitely pays off regarding a customer’s experience. Target provides good lighting, a clean appearance, bold signs, and an easy layout for customers to navigate. Not only does Target have a friendly, family environment, but it also has good quality products for reasonable prices.

    Target’s roots in a department store are definitely apparent. It is very fashion-orientated, hiring fashion designers to create the latest trendy clothes, and seeking out new trends before they hit the market. Also, Target is heavily invested in building its brand name through marketing and advertising. In fact, in the past I have even mistaken Target commercials for Gap commercials- that is of course before I saw Target’s bulls-eye logo.

    So far reading On Target has opened my eyes to a feasible, successful business that seems to find success in conflicting areas with little tradeoff. For instance, high quality is not usually associated with low price. I look forward to reading more about Target’s business systems and principals and how they have applied classroom business lessons to the real world. In particular, Target’s systems of supply chain management in controlling inventory and real time Customer Relationship Management.

  25. YiRu Lai

    Target utilizes four elements, product, service, image, and philanthropy, to capture consumers’ attention and to shift their bad impression of discount stores. They offer quality products, fair prices, and especially comfortable shopping environment to customers so that people are willing to spend time and money at Target. Target’s culture is the other important reason that people prefer to shop at Target stores. People are pursuing personal value and human touch which are forgotten for a long period of time in the over refinement and impersonal world. Consumers feel themselves being respected and appreciated in Target. It creates a new and better discount store shopping experience for people. It is the first store running business in terms of customers’ need but not only in terms of profit. In addition to the bright and comfortable environment, Target differentiates itself from competitors by product design and seasonal arrangement. Consumers can easily find the staff and have more choices which are only available in Target. One of their successful strategies is the technology investment which contributes to higher turnover rate and shorter lead time. This approach with fair prices encourages customers to do impulsive purchase. Target offers several consumer-oriented strategies, in other words, pull strategies to attract consumers. By offering emotional experience to people and the community, Target is very good at grabbing people’s need and mind. Target’s unique strategy creates value both on commodity and Target brand name.
    Compared to other traditional discount stores, Target seems to save consumers from terrible shopping experiences and deserve rewards from customers. It meets people’s desire for human touch and creates emotional association between customers and itself. The founder, Mr. Dayton began the idea of Target from his own experience in discount store. It really did a good job in contributing to happiness of people’s lives. However, I tend to think Target takes advantage of people’s need of human touch and manipulates people’s mind. It is not to say Target is another giant monster of capitalism. But it is worth for us, consumers, to reflect the truth behind the wonderful shopping experience.

  26. Serdar Mercan

    Americans’ attitude towards shopping and expectations from a retailer store changed in the last few decades. Along with Walmart, Target was one of these companies which pioneered the change in discounters’ expectations. Unlike Walmart, Target’s business model focuses on the high-end customers while offering the possibility of value shopping in quality products with a relatively better shopping experience (i.e. a New Yorker shopping from a Target store). Thus, Target sort of redefined the concept of “value shopping” as ‘value shopping doesn’t mean buying cheap’. On the other hand, company adheres to its roots and esteems social values. The arrogant era when the factories used to be heroes of the economy has passed. Now, people are the heroes of the economy and with the help of this change, Target evolved as one of the most respected brands in the retailing industry.

    So far the book reflects so many facts in favor of Target instead of following an objective perspective on the company. Hence, -unlike most of my friends here- this approach leaves me with a repulsive effect against Target. It feels like reading a monthly Target magazine which could be handed out at every Target store for free (maybe Target should consider giving out “On Target” for free). For all that, I don’t think Walmart’s strategy is better than Target. On the other hand, looking at the financial records, there is a fact that Walmart has been doing better in business. Maybe, Target’s board of directors are happy with company’s reputation, strategy and balance sheets. After all, it depends on the company’s mission and vision.

    I admit that people enjoy shopping more at a Target store than at Walmart. Most of the customers have their shopping list with them when they go to Walmart. It might not be the case for the customers who prefer shopping at Target to shopping at Walmart. It is easy to anticipate that Walmart does better than Target in recession times. However, as we discussed in class last week, there is no business strategy or business model that works well in every period. Maybe that’s why Walmart is recently trying to change its strategy. For the article: Is Wal-Mart the new Target?

  27. Shasha Lin

    When my “rich” Uncle came to visit me and we shopped in Wal-mart, he said “I never shop in Wal-mart.” Then, where did he shop? Of course, Target. The first impression I have with Target: it is rich people’s choice. After getting familiar with supermarkets in USA, I like the charming store over others. Still, I am not so clear what make target distinguished. I am happy that I choose the book: on target. The book let me know much in-depth about her business leaders and strategies that made Target such a runaway success.
    The company’s easily recognizable red-and-white logo, good quality, low price, excellent service, quiet and clean environment has created a new definition for discount store shopping. She tried and successes to remove the traditional image with discount store shopping: in order to get low price, you have shop in a crowded space, messy shelf and noisy atmosphere. Targets’ difference made her an apple in the eyes of middle- and upper-income families, a living example is my uncle.
    I am expecting to read more their product, the strategies that catch consumers’’ heart: buy good quality goods in low price and etc. instead of reading incomplete eBook on Google. I wish I could have The book after years of shipping.

  28. Chieh-Fu Chao

    Target knows that customer service and technology are the two main factors on running in this competitive retailing industry. In order to enhance its customer satisfaction, Target executive Larry Gilpin determined to take on “The Mickey Mouse Club” Walt Disney Corporation’s training and service initiatives, because Larry truly believed that the concepts and trainings his employees learned and experienced would be a great asset for the corporation in both short-run and long-run.

    Meanwhile, Target was trying to catch up War- Mart’s Retail Link online system which was to allow its retailers and vendors to apply joint market sale planning and improve supply chain management. Through the system, Wal-Mart was able to track every order and sale in different stores, and the system also provided a better way to forecast the sales and minimize the costs. In 1999, Target came up with its own online system “Partners Online” allowing electronic data interchange. Furthermore, in 2001, Target introduced a brand new online system CRM (real-time customer relationship management) accessing all orders from call centers, credit cards, and online. Ultimately, Target decided to have its own website Target.com. It teams up with Amazon.com and also sells the merchandise on Amazon.com. The online sales remain profitable.

    From my marketing class, I learn what the differences are between a buy and make decision. For a buy decision, a corporation may consider more on direct costs meaning more efficient. On the other hand, when a company considers more on control of transaction costs meaning more effective, it will lose its efficiency. In my opinion, Target made a smart move by teaming up with Amazon an online sale expert and giant. Especially, it would take too much time for Target to figure out and be familiar with the processes of online sales and shipments.

  29. Ryan Tomko

    Target has a unique strategy that separates them from other retail and discount stores. In simple terms Target attempts to position their selves in a way that is different and more of an enjoyable experience for their customers to enjoy. They have specific goals and take strict actions to achieve them. Target values the upscale look and shopping experience of the customer. So they have designed and created different colorful marketing campaign. They have made sure that the store itself is very bright and clean. They also appeal to the senses of customers by have many different products in assortment of colors that would interest the customer into potential purchases.
    Target aims at customers who want to enjoy this shopping experience and also purchase items that they need for less. Target realizes that the majority of shoppers do not want the experience of a warehouse where aisles are crowded and goods are falling off shelves or large bins. Rather they are looking for a place where they will not stress out but cleanliness or if the store is crowded. Target takes a multi pronged retailing strategy. Target works with major brands to develop exclusive and affordable collections, manufactures its own private label goods, gathers ideas from internal and external sources, and licenses deals with innovative designers. Target prefers to look to people who can make trends, as opposed to following them, to help stay ahead of the curve. In the following pages of the book I look forward to finding out how exactly Target accomplishes this and the different challenges that they may incur by doing so.

  30. Erica Meyer

    Target Corporation, founded a century ago by the Dayton family, has positioned itself in today’s discounter store market as a trendy and hip alternative to places like Wal-Mart and Kmart, offering unique brands and products in a personal, feel good shopping environment. Due to factors such as the change in bargain hunter mentality and people’s needs for certainty in an uncertain world, Target has become a widely spread phenomenon, tapping into the upper-middle class savvy shopper segment. Along with other discount superstores, Target has swept market share drastically from department stores, the previous venue for all-purpose shopping. Their employees follow the trends to keep Target competitive and stylish, and their advertising conveys their chic persona while still conveying their low prices. This book takes the reader step by step through each of Target’s strategic decisions over time that got them where they are today.
    I completely agree with Mara when she says, “Every time I read a few pages in the book, it makes me want to go shop at Target…” The only negative image portrayed was the 88 incident, when Target promoted a line of products that displayed the underground Neo-Nazi symbol. Even Rowley skewed that by quickly changing the subject to another product line they were extremely successful with. Hopefully, as the book progresses, I will be presented with the other side of Target which has been alluded to a few times already. For example, Rowley’s interview with her cousin quotes her as saying, “It definitely has a lot of restrictions so that it can only be so good. I probably just said too much.”
    Other than the skewed position of the author, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the book. The author does a great job at making the book humorous and reader-friendly by including personal stories and quotes. In fact, some of the ideas portrayed has gotten my wheels turning about the simulation, and just corporate strategy as a whole.

  31. Chieh-Fu Chao

    In 1970, Target started to work on its own “Guides for Growth” strategic plan, developed by 15 to 18 key executives. First of all, they had to identify and analysis its own SWOT: internal strengths, internal weakness, external opportunities, and external threats. Subsequently, the executives would build up its plan of action and assign the tasks to the senior officers, and the executives needed to follow up and make sure the tasks were successfully implemented. In addition, their bonuses would be determined by their performances on those tasks.

    There are several ways which Target used for implementing the strategy such as honest advertising, conservative accounting, and stylish merchandizes. Target’s top executives also knew that the importance of feedbacks from its employees in all levels. In order to expand its market shares and good reputation, Target did a lot of community philanthropy and environment efforts for its customers and communities. Target was actually called a leader in waste reduction.

    Although Target has faced several issues and challenges from either its competitors or the public, Target never forgets its heritage: high quality and style of the products, ethical values, community service, and proficient management.

  32. rich white

    Chapters 5-7 dive into the service and technology used by Target and how it’s developed and stayed on the cutting edge over the years, the life, experiences and values of founder George Draper Dayton, and the five sons of George Nelson Dayton (George Draper’s son and owner of the company after he died) who took over the company when he died in 1950 and how they took Target to the empire it is today. Although reading about the cutting edge technology to provide Target with highly utilized customer data which better helps the company to maximize both the experience and profits (two such pieces of technology being the Visa Smart Card and the cutting edge CRM system), I really enjoyed the chapter on George Draper Dayton, the reason being is that so many of his mannerisms, beliefs, and values paralleled those detailed in the book Good to Great. His beliefs can be best seen in a speech he delivered at Macalester College in St. Paul where he said, “It sounds somewhat complex, but really it is very simple. Business integrity can be defined to be: Doing things as you agreed to do them. Doing things when you agreed to do them. Doing things you ought to do.” Rowley later wrote that Dayton’s (the name of the store before it became Target) was initially known for “quality goods at fair prices, catering to a range of income levels, free delivery by horse and boat, and a liberal return policy unique for its time.” Dayton was also described as being scrupulously honest which could be seen in his dollar reward (mind you this was in 1903) to anyone who found a mistake in any of the store advertisements.

  33. Daniel Spence

    In the second half of the book you really gain an understanding of what Target stands for. What I mean by that is Target believes strongly in the honesty of the company. They strive to build great relationships with their customers and also the communities in which they do business. They also give away 5% of their pretax income to local schools and charities. This goes a long way towards building and solidifying a relationship with the community. I think that this is one of if not the main reason that they were successful in fighting off the hostile takeover. Target had such a wonderful relationship with the community in Minnesota that the community fought the hostile takeover and won. It goes to show that if you take care of the little people they will help you when you need it. I know that many people in the Binghamton area shop at the Target in Vestal simply because of the fact that they can donate part of their purchase to local school districts.
    Overall I think that when a company has strong values like the Target corporation does it is much easier to retain customers because they grow to trust the company. This doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t have to try to retain customers. It just means that if a customer has a bad experience they will probably still come back and give your company another chance because of what the company has done for them in the past.
    After reading this book I think that Target has a very prosperous future ahead of them. Mainly because they constantly adapt to the changing retail industry. This will give them an adavantage over many other retailers that do not evolve with the industry.

  34. Amy Smith

    The second section of “On Target” by Laura Rowley begins by describing aspects of their employee treatment. The author explained that in 1989, there was 100% turnover! This is an incredible figure (and even seems almost unbelievable?), and clearly indicated that something needed to be done to keep Target employees with Target. On page 68, George Jones, former executive vice president for store operations claimed, “There’s a direct correlation between how we treat our employees and how they treat our customers.” This was part of the basis upon which they changed their employee culture. In their customer-focus orientation, Target decided to implement a CRM system, making them one of the first retailers to do so. Target also aimed to build consumers loyalty with their Visa SmartCard credit card. The author then shifts to discussing Target from its inception. George Draper Dayton began his Goodfellow Store in 1902, which would 60 years later evolve into Target Corporation. After Goodfellow’s, it turned into Dayton’s Dry Goods Company. Dayton’s store continuously made profits, even during the Depression. It was clear that Dayton’s philosophy on business, employee treatment, and customer satisfaction was a success that would last for years in the future. The Target Corporation was founded in 1962, and experienced great growth under CEO Robert Ulrich. In an interesting fact about Ulrich, the author notes that in 2001, his inner circle was mostly male, with 12 of the 15 Target Corp.’s officers being men. Ulrich was known for not wanting to appear pretentious, and would have rather been seen as another other Target employee. His down-to-business attitude allowed his changes to save the company $350 million in savings by making minor adjustments.

    This section of the book gave a lot of great insight into the history of Target and how it came to be what it is today. I have always fully agreed with the statement made by George Jones, that you should treat employees how you want your customers to be treated—and I think it truly works in practice. One aspect noted in the book, which I disagreed with, was mentioned on pages 113-114, in regards to the image of discount stores—that they are looked down upon. With the success of places like Wal Mart and Target, I don’t think this is a valid point. Also, it is a known fact that if you drive through a Wal Mart parking lot, you are pretty likely to see a Lexus or an Audi—even people with large amounts of disposable income shop at discount stores! I think in current times, it is very socially acceptable to shop at discount stores such as Target—some would even go so far as to call it “trendy.” Although I do also think that is valid to say that perhaps the “image” of these stores is not high, it evidently does not deter customers from shopping, which is perhaps the most important aspect.

  35. Sylvia Chow

    Chapters 6 through 8 focus on the origin of Target and George Draper Dayton’s success in entrepreneurship. The establishment of the department store, Goodfellow Store, which was later renamed Dayton’s Dry Goods Company in 1903, laid the foundation for Target’s corporate culture and values. George Dayton’s belief in investing in people and his involvement in philanthropy passed down to the later generations of Dayton. They continued to reinforce the retailing principles – quality, value, and service – in each new venture they pursued.

    In addition to citing the legacy of George Draper Dayton and the management style of the Dayton brothers, Laura Rowley also discussed the evolution of the retail industry. Specifically, she talked about how the birth of extravagant shopping malls changed the retail landscape that was previously dominated by department stores and mom-and-pop shops; how the market gave way to mass retailing; and how the general perception about discount stores changed over time.

    After I read the history of Target, I was not surprise about the distinctive position Target had achieved among all the competitors that were founded in 1962 (e.g. Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Kohl’s). Target’s strategy to serve the niche market by being an “upscale discounter” and exceed the expectation of customers at the time when most consumers had low expectations for discount stores contributed to the company’s success. Referring to the materials we have learned in this course so far, Target was and still is pursuing the best-cost provider strategy. It is able to provide superior values to value-conscious consumers at appealing prices.

    It was also interesting to read about the evaluation process of CEO, in which the board of directors played a key role. Both the CEO himself and the board members evaluated the CEO’s performance based on how well he accomplished the objectives set in the previous year. In fact, it would be interesting to read the CEO’s self-evaluation since his bonus was partly based on his rating. In my opinion, such evaluation system not only allowed Target to manage its performance but also cultivate a forward-looking culture as the CEO strived to meet the goals.

  36. Mara Schwartz

    The second part of On Target delved into the history of Target and its founder, George Dayton. Mr. Dayton is another business man in history that helped improve the standards customers expect to receive while shopping. He understood the importance of good relationships, not only among customers and the store, but the entire community and the store as well. Target still maintain community relations, donating 5% of pretax profits to charitable organizations. Target maintains a high reputation and image, with its bull’s eye logo beating out all other companies logos in consumer recognition, including the Nike swoosh.
    People, in their genetically selfish nature, often forget that to survive, people need to cooperate with each other. The efficiencies attained by working together as a team help maintain our evolution. George Dayton was a man who inherently understood the intricate and essential nature of interaction, and passed his knowledge onto millions of others through his business philosophies. His philosophies, which have remained within the company as the years have passed is one of the major reasons why Target remains successful in today’s highly competitive retail world.

  37. Rebecca Rattmann

    Chapters 5 through 7 discuss Target’s service and technology, George Draper Dayton, and the next generation of ownership. Target gets “high marks for its customer service” now, but this has not always been the case. In the 1980s, customer surveys conveyed to Target management that customers wanted more, better, and faster assistance. In order to accomplish this, Target executives decided to adopt Walt Disney Corporation’s training and service initiatives. Target also changed its mission statement to focus around the idea of an “assisted self-service” company instead of strictly self-service. Employee turnover was another issue that was addressed during this time. The chapter also describes Target’s return policy as it’s “weakest link.” This is, however, part of Target’s efforts to control inventory. Target has invested hundreds of millions on improving their technology systems and facilities to “shorten inventory lead times, deliver more consistent in-stock levels and reduce markdowns.” Some other important topics in the chapter were Target’s real-time customer relationship management system to better serve its most loyal clients, it’s website and how “shopper-friendly” it is, and the Target’s “smart card.” The next chapter goes on to discuss George Draper Dayton. He was a determined risk-taker who always relied on his morals and his religious faith to lead him in the right direction. He was very good at thinking outside of the box and had an ability to foresee what the trends were going to be. Chapter 7 goes into detail about the Dayton brothers and how they stayed true to their values while pursuing bold investments. Each venture that the brothers pursued reinforced the principles learned from their predecessors: quality, value, and service.
    Chapter 5 discusses Target’s smart card and how the retailer was the first in the U.S. to launch it’s own smart card on a mass scale. This card allowed Target to look into the shopper’s spending patterns so it can custom-tailor promotions. The book claims that “the Visa Smart Card is one of Target’s most significant technology and service ventures” and it is a great way of increasing customer loyalty. However, after reading an article on CNNMoney.com, it looks as though Target did not take a very important question into account: who needs a smart card anyway? In March of 2003, “Target announced that its smart card had gotten a failing grade.” Target even has plans to discontinue the smart card program. The article states that Target should have focused on the card’s fraud-fighting capabilities in addition to coupon loyalty program. The coupon loyalty program was also too complicated, which decreased the effectiveness of the card. I found this to be very interesting considering the book’s view on the card.


  38. Joe Zahensky

    In this part of the book the author spoke about how Target got started. It talked about the life of George Draper Dayton. Target started in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was called Dayton’s Dry Goods Company. The Dayton’s kept the business mostly within the family. By doing this, the company was able to maintain the hard work ethic and principle upon which George Draper Dayton originally founded the company. This part of the book also talked about how Target took a slower approach to growth than other competitors such as K-Mart did, and how Target did not want to sacrifice its quality and customer service during expansion.
    I agree with the Dayton’s plan to keep the company in the family. It seems that the companies that have strong leadership are usually the most successful. By doing business this way, Target is able to ensure that their principles and dedication to quality and customer service are never compromised. It also allows them to stick to their business plan and trust that it will be as successful in the future as it was in the past. It was when Target got away from these principles that it suffered difficulties in the early 1970s.

  39. Yu Lin Lee

    After reading the following chapters of “On Target”, I found that the success of Target is not just by chance. In fact, I think the most difficult thing of doing business is to predict the customer’s preference trend. In the past, to shop in a retail store might not be a good thing to show off to friends; however, in the present, we often heard people said something like “Hey, you know what! I just got a great deal from shopping in the discount store!” Apparently, Target notices this inflection point of customers’ preference and taps into this market with its best-cost strategy, which it provided better, innovative products with low price; it knows what does seem to matter to customer is value. Also, Target takes advantage on the improvements of technology, which enables it to produce innovative products in low cost.
    In addition, In order to further differentiate it with other retailers; Target puts a lot of emphasis on the training of employee. Target knows that it’s not realistic to think its employee will treat customers any better than it treats its employees. Thus, Target deals with this issue proactively. For example, Target provides better training program to its entry level employees by adopting Walt Disney Corporation’s training and service initiatives, increasing service quality and giving its “quests” more positive impressions. Moreover, Target selects its employee very carefully; since, most of time, knowledge lost along with the increase of employee turnover rate, therefore, Target try to find right people at first place who have more motivations and see retail sales as a carrer. By doing so, Target reduces its employee turnover rate dramatically and increase customers’ satisfaction as well. Besides, another thing which benefits Target a lot is CRM. Target is one of the first retailers to roll out a real-time customer relationship management system; this system could allow Target to data-mining its customer base, figure out the needs of customer and proactively cross-sell product in other categories without worrying about introducing something to customers which they already have.

  40. Pei-Chih Kao

    In the mid part of On Target, the fashion trend that was preached by press, customers start pair on cheap and luxurious at the same time, and consumers’ preference shift to buy some more trendy inexpensive goods. Customers showed new interests different with traditional values keeping and using for lifetime, not just on clothes, but also on furniture, house ware, and in daily shopping habits. Customers were regarding as smart if they find good deals. Target’s marketing strategies utilize their logo to strengthen their image with clever advertisement, sponsor of fashion shows and ball games, and philanthropy. Target also did very well in management. Target monitored the performance of every link in the value chain, developed customer relationship management system, let Amazon.com help them to run online stores, and push Target’s smart chip credit card to keep track of customers’ shopping pattern with tailored promotions.
    It’s a very good idea for Target to introduce their own credit cards. Customers also get benefits from using the Visa Smart card like exclusive discounts and points rebate. But here comes the real problems, if any customers can easily apply for Target’s credit cards under all kinds of financial conditions, Target’s potential credit default risk will increase. For example, the recent financial crisis and economics recession brought famous credit bank like Citigroup down, Target can never keep away from the backfire of over issuing credit cards to its customers. Promoting credit cards was an opportunity to expand Target’s customer base, however, they need to filter their customers under certain criteria to protect Target’s financial security.

  41. Amy Smith

    The third section of “On Target” by Laura Rowley has discussion of Target’s many unique features, which allow in large part for their success. By 1972, Target was facing troubles, as overexpansion, high costs for remodeling and management turnover translated into a drop in profits. More bad times were encountered with leader William Hodder—with such a strong technology focus, he neglected customers and merchandise. Individual store managers enjoyed a virtual free-for-all during this time of weak leadership. After this, came the development of Target’s “Guides for Growth,” as the need for direction was dire. Target even decided on having departments devoted to strategic planning, in which they regularly reviewed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the company. The strategic plan was developed, and management was evaluated on how well they carried it out and made necessary improvements. They either got a bonus or got fired—bottom line.
    Target’s honesty clearly led them, in part, to where they are today. It is part of their advantage in retailing. Their commitment to philanthropy is consistent with their holistic value of honesty, and is a large part of their public image and way of doing business. In 1987, Target was threatened with a takeover, which led to Minnesota communities fighting for legislation to keep Target on their own two feet. Some future problems that Target may continue to encounter concern expansion. People do not want a “big box” retailer in their backyards, as it is viewed as harsh to the essence of the town. As well, with Target’s outsourcing its private label goods, and past accusations of labor mistreatment, they may face unpleasant attitudes towards those goods.
    One aspect that was mentioned twice in this section of the book stood out to me as unusual. When management is given a task that needs attention, the author mentions that the higher management made it clear that if the changes were not enacted, they would essentially just be fired. This was true in the discussion of the CEO review, as well as when the front-end of Target stores needed work that the bosses just were not taking care of. I understand the gravity of theses situations, and maybe it is just the way the author framed these issues, but this seems to imply a hostile situation for Target employees! Most sources portray Target as a nice, wholesome, honest company that gives back to their community and loves to make people happy. However, this aspect seems to portray a cut-throat, uncaring, harsh aspect, or “dark side” to Target’s unforgiving management. What if the changes the managers were being forced to enact were not suitable for that particular Target store? They would just be fired? I understand this style sends a clear message of not tolerating mediocrity, but it also seems rather narrow thinking, which I would not expect to have read about Target.

  42. Jia Tang

    Reading the middle section of this book it’s not hard to understand why Target’s employees are so different from those of other retail stores such as Wal-Mart. As a “discount department store”, target inherits both department store and discount store characteristics. To adapt to the needs of “more, better, faster, effective” assistance, as shown in the surveys in the 1980s, Target came up with a brilliant idea – adopting Walt Disney Corporation’s methods of training service people. They also changed their mission statement from STRICTLY self-service to ASSISTED self-service. The word “assisted” embedded a more human feeling. It put more workers on the floor to directly assist shoppers, and they know deeply what customers need and want. As everyone has no doubt experienced for themselves in Target, it’s not hard to find an assistant to point you in the right direction, or near the cashiers informing you which line is the shortest. Target people are thinking more like customers, they don’t try to push certain goods and information in an attempt to increase the possibility of sell more products, instead, they think how to save customer’s time, how provide a faster service. Also, a color-coded system helps it monitor staff efficiently and effectively. The rest of this section of the book talks about the Dayton family through a brief history of Target. George Dayton is a great businessman; it was interesting to read his story. Mr. Dayton is a person who enjoys taking risks and being the first to seize an opportunity. He has a sharp insight into investment opportunities. It’s incredible that he took over a bank without even seeing a ledger before. Another thing which impressed me is that George Dayton did a lot of social responsibility related jobs during his life. He realizes the importance of sharing wealth and success, which also helps increase Target’s reputation. He also started a school to aid Target’s staff to finish their high school studies. His personality makes up a significant part of Target’s spirit, and contributes greatly to Target’s success.

  43. Ryan Tomko

    I think that most critical and interesting chapter that I have read since my last post is ‘Inside the mind of the bargain hunter.’ I think that this elaborates on a cultural aspect that profoundly impacts Target. That is, there has been a shift from what has been socially acceptable or thought highly of. In the past designer labels and large department stores dominated how people shopped and what was thought to be fashionable. Many people found it important to show off the latest attire from different clothing labels and would pay a substantial amount of many to have this look. Now, it has become increasing cool to be frugal. More people consider it a ‘badge of honor to be a smart savvy shopper. More and more people find it less important where they get their clothes from but more importantly the look and how much they pay. This falls right into the lap of what Target wants to accomplish. Target has been providing cool and hip looks for a fraction of the price that many labels or department stores offer their clothes for. This has increasingly brought in new customers who feel that Target allows them to look fashionable and look like the new trends without paying a fortune. This has bolstered Target’s appeal to the masses and has made them very successful. Many shoppers are now shifting from shopping at large department stores to Target. Or, there are many customers who are learning about the clothes in Target simply by being in the store and shopping for other things and stumbling on to them. Most of these customers who see the brands that Target carries and the look of these clothes for a small amount fall in love with them for the same reasons they have for other products in the store.

  44. Sumit Kaushik

    As I went more inside this book, I got to know how Target differentiated itself by implementing outstanding strategies discussed below. In the 1990’s, new retailing concepts like warehouse clubs, supercenters, outlet malls came into existence but provided products at the higher-end prices. The part of the gap between branded stuffs and discounted ones was closed by the technology like high technology systems facilitate in getting goods to the right stores at right time in right amount, customer relationship management system, e-commerce through Amazon.com and Target’s own credit cards to know customer’s spending pattern helped it in increasing its customer base. Also, boom in internet technology helped manufacturers and discounters in getting better information and making distribution network better than before. The importance of brand label products went down as consumers became more conscious in saving money and why not, they were getting the same designs at much cheaper price. Target’s differential way of advertising and promoting its brand in the market has lead to its substantial growth in the retail industry. Using high-fashion images and talent to carry out its campaign, broadly-defined mission statement, indulgence in philanthropy, sponsoring key events in fashion, charity work and advertising it through TV series and sports events , made Target’s brand a household name. It’s not just advertising but its workforce too which made a difference to its success. Training staff to provide fast, fun and friendly service, providing flexible working hours and monitoring their performance time-to time not only reduced turnover rate but also helped in achieving high efficiency in their work. For a company, to create its own market in the industry when you have all the well-known brands competing alongside with you, it’s difficult for a new entrant to achieve success and needs a broad differential approach to lure customers to step-in to your store and that’s what Target did and achieved what it portrayed through its vision and mission.

  45. ChihHua Chen

    After Reading Section 2 of on target, I found what a company values will definitely impact on what the company perform. Target is so valued by its customer experience focus that even its technology development is doing nothing but to provide better customer value. For example, first, its website, Target.com is very shopper friendly for customers to order and purchase online. Second, its customer relationship system is used to help target to identify its best customers and provide much needed services to them. Third, Target is the very first retailer to issue smart card which carries microchip to help analyze customer spending patterns. Forth, its performance monitoring method, color-coded system, is used to monitor its clerks in order to make sure customers being served well and in timely manner. All of above are so customer focused therefore Target is so successful in doing retail. Other than that, I also find that those innovations are derived from the vision and mission from its funder George Draper Dayton, who is so truthful and careful to customers.
    From those advices George Draper Dayton gave to his successor “Merchandise of dependable quality and honest value at its level… A claim must not merely be true but credible.” I can find that how important it is to gain trust from customers and to maintain their trust for an enterprise. George Draper Dayton not only understood that but practiced that and that is the reason why he was so successful. On the other hand, foresighted and bold risk-taking abilities of him are still also very crucial for a manager today.

  46. Rajesh Gandhi

    The first two chapters dealt with the efforts made by Target to be a distinguished retailer. In the third chapter, author talks about the external forces which further helped Target to position itself as a discount store with a difference. First, fashion started going up from the streets, low priced fashions were becoming socially acceptable. Even during social events people started using stuffs that are trendy, price and brand name started taking the back seat. Second, technology provided the necessary information required for reading the consumer patterns and advancement in supply chain helped discount stores to have the new trendy dresses on the same day as the big department stores. Third, the quality of discount stores increased so much that people started mix n match their luxury apparels with the inexpensive ones. Finally, the attitude of people changed so much that those who find a good deals are seen as smart and savvy shopper.

  47. YiRu Lai

    To differentiate itself from competitors, Target tried ways to offer different merchandise and addressed quality as well. Target reversed the stereotype in consumers’ mind that discount stores offered cheap, low quality, and out-of-date goods. Target took alliance strategies to cooperate with leading companies like Sony and Calphalon. Those brands developed special and affordable products for discount shopper. Target focus on developing their private label goods and try to keep their products on trend. Target took care of their own brand products with strict quality standard, and improved those styles of product by Marshall Field department store customers. Target adopted artist to design and create unique goods for the market, and marketed Target as a brand. Multiple retail channels mean shoppers often willing to pay full price for convenience because of no time to spend on shopping, so shoppers often go to most convenient retail stores. However, Target aimed on different market segment-bargain shoppers by developing better value product for attracting consumers’ attention.
    Innovation is one of the key to success in any competitive industry. Target came up with several innovative ideas in marketing and promotion, service and technology. Target was the first retailer to sponsor professional sports arena and to develop customer relationship management system. It is the first retailer to launch smart card on a mass scale. Based on these, Target knew how to get consumers’ attention and offer better services. Target is one company that really put emphases on customers.
    It is very important to have right employee to deliver right products and services to customers. To create better shopping experience for consumers, Target trained its employee in creative ways. At the same time, Target preferred to hire people with great enthusiasm about retailing. Only people are very interested in what they are doing, they will fully dedicate to it with motivation.

  48. Peter Choi

    The first four chapters of the book entail how Target inspires its workers lures shoppers into its stores. Present day Target is a discount retailer, but it is not totally low cost like Walmart. Target “targets” a different type of shopper; one who is more affluent and knowledgeable. The type of person who’s main objective is to go into a store mainly because it has the lowest price around. Consumers are encouraged to explore the well organized, clean, and well lit stores. Regular shoppers can see new items on the shelves because Target’s turn around times shorter than other retailers. Designers like to work with Target because they want to be associated with a fashionable retailer and can move product with high volumes.

    I have to admit, before I attended Binghamton, I never saw Target before in person. I would see the catchy ads on television, with the emphasis of clean red and white clothed models. Target didn’t scream discount retailer, but more like a higher end yuppy retailer. The first time I set into a store, I was pleasantly surprised. Isles were large, and people working there were weren’t dreading to leave work asap. I shop there from time to time, but in the end, it is the mega store across the other side Vestal Parkway which wins most of my business. Why? Because I believe most people don’t fit the description of Target’s consumer base, especially in this economy. I find it hard to believe that rich women are leaving the store with bags upon bags of stuff because what they have on sale is so great. So bottom line, the first few chapters of the book sound a little sensationalist, and I hope that it gets better than this soon…

  49. Kristen Drumheller

    The next couple of chapters I read discussed Target’s technology systems, its turnover renovation, the core essence of Target, and main proponent of Target’s vision, George Dayton. Target used cutting edge technology for a competitive advantage in the form of a CRM system, a wide scale Visa Smart Card, and a well designed website. They also managed to decrease their high turnover dramatically through a new employee-training program and service initiatives. Target is extremely focused on customer satisfaction and community involvement. This focus was majorly influenced by George Dayton’s morals and values that he infused with the company. He ensured that Target focused on a team cooperation philosophy while maintaining close ties with the community.

    I noticed that a previous summary touched on the chapter “Inside the mind of the bargain hunter”, and I would like to share my conflicting point of view. The chapter identifies a segment of customers that pride themselves on good deals and bargains. However, the book, and in particular this chapter is very one-sided and believes that this trend is permanent and mainstream, and that customers in general are shifting their focus to low cost and trendy appearance. This trend is evaluated at face-value. I don’t believe that consumers in general are permanently shifting their habits to a more cost-effective lifestyle and that trendy appearance is the main driving point. Since the book was published in 2003 when the economy was beginning its long slump, I believe that many people shifted their focus mainly out of economic necessity. Many of these people are very likely to switch back to more high quality goods elsewhere once the economy has recovered.

  50. Serdar Mercan

    In the previous chapters, the book analyzed how Target differentiates itself from a typical discount store. It started with signing of Michael Graves who has cutting-edge designs and continued with designers who are not well-known but creative and have innovative and stylish designs. These partnerships also let designers to fulfill their desires to design home apparels, kitchen goods, small appliances etc. Another important point that differentiates Target from other discount stores is that you can also find designer clothes in Target stores as in the case of Mossimo Giannulli. Target was so good at selling designer clothes that Mossimo had to close company-owned stores in California. Hence, people enjoyed buying designer clothes paying much less instead of buying them from designer stores. Since then, the gap between affordable and designer products narrowed. Moreover, this strategy increased the market share of discount stores because consumers can now say ‘I saved money’ as they shop for value. In the last decade, researches show that the shifting cost of the consumers significantly decreased and what does seem to matter is value; not logos or labels.

    Target also has a unique way of marketing. To value their brand name, in marketing events they stand aside big names such as W Hotels, Mercedes-Benz, Evian etc. They also come up with pioneer marketing ideas such as giving their names to a stadium while spending less than their followers. They are also aware of how they value their employees show how they value their customers. Moreover, ‘Partners Online’ shows that they know the importance of technology and supply-chain management to decrease costs and to satisfy their customers. I think the most ingenious approach they took so far was to understand the importance of the technology and the internet. Unlike other retailers, they did not rush and use their website as an online store at the time. They used it as a tool for improving customer relationship instead.

  51. Shasha Lin

    After the book “on target” vividly show us that target distinguished itself from other discounted store with its low-priced high-quality products in a superior shopping environment; it goes on to tell us in detail how the firm closely works with famous brand, contracts with famous/new designers, expands its own private labor providing the same quality as leading brand at a cheaper price, or better at the same price to make a human touch with customers. Target clearly catches the mind of the bargain hunter to offer either well-known brand or other products with such a low price, put the customers in a 100% win position.
    Target creates a red bull’s eye miracle along with their marketing talents to win the trust and also the heart of its consumers. They are generously denoting money to the society every week in a huge amount. They sponsor key events in fashion and celebrity charities. In return, they get more from its followers. If target is a fashion follower in its product, it is also a follower in the technology. They develop e-commerce with a target website to expand its market using target visa card. They know who is their best employees, who is not.

  52. As an international student, target is a strange name for me, Wal-Mart would be a familiar name as the discount store which was doing business in my home country. At first I visited target in the vestal drive way, I felt something different from Wal-Mart. They were a feeling that they have some bright comfort atmosphere, silence and better quality products.
    As I read “on target” I have come to know that the feeling does not come from just superficial cosmetics outfit but from their business philosophy and strategy. It might not have been built by one day.
    Target was formed in the 1960’s, but they have long time from origin. The history of target goes back to late 1800’s, George draper Dayton who was founder of Dayton’s department store.
    For that long time’s history, they have been constructed good reputation with good customer service, adhering business ethics and philanthropy efforts. They could be very proud assets of target and other company could not easily imitate them in short time.
    In this book, author refers to Wal-Mart often, maybe because target thinks Wal-Mart as the strongest competitor. But they doesn’t have market share as much as Wal-Mart but they have unique culture and strong market position.
    I think the author is a fan of target, it seems that there is some emotional description for the target but any way I am going to read more and I might be going to be fully agreed with her.

  53. Erica Meyer

    The second part of the book discusses the founding family of Target, the Daytons. George Draper Dayton started his career as a young boy working as a salesman. His incredible work ethic and sincere business practices caused him to create long lasting relationships with former business partners and his community and customer base. He passed down these core values to his sons and their sons, all of whom worked tirelessly to improve the soon-to-be Target chain. The family was always at the cutting edge, developing stores in areas that anyone would have second thoughts about, just to realize what a successful business move they had made. They influenced the start of the quintessential American “mall”, putting their Dayton store just minutes away from their biggest competitors. Over time, Target has been fortunate enough to have been managed by great leaders such as John Geisse and some of the Dayton brothers, with visionary and calculated business strategies.

    I have been thinking a lot about the Business Strategy Game while reading this book and trying to apply what I learn to the simulation. We are constantly reminded that a consistent strategy will get you far in the game, and it has certainly worked for Target. For example, George Draper Dayton implemented a credit card like system back in the late 1800s when he was the store owner. For his most valued customers, he allowed them to pay at a later date, and this program is in full swing 100 years later. The Daytons saw the chaotic layout of other comparable stores and vowed to creat a better experience for the shopper, and this is part of Target’s mission today. They have never waivered from their strategy, and I believe this is a major part of why they have been so successful. The ethical framework for the business has never waivered as well

    I also found it extremely interesting how pivotal they were in creating the mall. I had never really thought about how that concept was started. It just shows how confident the management was in their store in relation to their competitors, and this bold strategy created a boom in their foot traffic and profits.

    I look forward to completing the book. The entire text so far has been extremely positive, and I am curious what the author has to say about their future growth and challenges, which are two of the upcoming chapters.

  54. Kristen Greco

    The second portion of “On Target”, Chapters 4 through 7, go into advertising & promotion techniques, service & technology, and the history of Target’s creators, the Daytons.

    Target has always tried to be a leader in everything they do. They ensure that all of their workers project a “fast, fun, and friendly” attitude. They train their employees well, give them constant feedback, and teach them to follow the values that Target diligently pursues. More employees have been placed on the sales floor in a manner that always makes them available to customers. There catchy advertising and marketing tactics are always appealing to the masses and bringing in business, and there use of technology has put them at an advantage. By managing the inventory pipeline, using the internet as a useful resource, and creating their own credit card, Target as managed to stay at the top of their game.

    Target’s past leadership has been an essential part of getting them to the point they are at today. Founder, George Draper Dayton, was an honest, hard-working, diligent, businessman with a reputation for helping those in need. Target’s (previously Dayton’s) was founded on his morals which still project through Target’s image. Dayton cared for his employees and the community and passed these values on to his sons and grandsons as they took over his flourishing business.

    I think a company’s past says a lot about their future. I am very impressed by the way that the Dayton family has conducted their business and their honesty and integrity seems to be very rare these days. They have really done their research and seem to know what will attract customers. For example, their Visa Smart Card tracks (came out in 2001) purchases and buying trends not only at Target, but at any store the card is used while offering customers a 10% discount at Target. This was the first time a US retailer launched its own smart card on a mass scale. I knew that stores had this capability, but never realized it started with Target. Target seems to have always been innovators in the retailing industry and from the work that they have done in the past, it looks as though they will continue to be. I am intrigued to see what they will come up with next.

  55. rich white

    The next three chapters leading up to the final go into great detail on how Target has been able to separate itself from the pack and become regarded as such a leading retailer. There were a number of practices implemented within the company during the late 60s and early 70s that undoubtedly helped it to grow to where it is today. For instance, because the Dayton brothers (at the time only Ken and Bruce remained) put such a high value on developing talent, in 1970 they started making every human resources director from each store report to the CEO. Additionally, Ken instituted a policy known as “organizational surplus” where each high-level manager would train a backup to replace him/her so that when/if the time came for a promotion the company would already have a highly trained employee to fill the vacancy. Further, in 1973, newly named chairman Stephen Pistner assembled a new group of executives and they set out on a mission to design a strategy for the company based on the principles of its founding father. The Guides for Growth, as they became to known, were so effective “it became one of those documents read throughout the retail industry.”

  56. Mara Schwartz

    The last part of On Target discusses Management decisions regarding training, succession, strategy, and philanthropy. Target has remained relatively stable throughout the years by controlling growth and ensuring proper training of its employees. Unlike Kmart, Target expanded its stores slowly at first, and tried to tap into unsaturated markets. It looked to expand across the United States, instead of focusing on one area, which John Geisse, who later left the company, did not agree with. Target focused on strategic planning and continually had its top executives meet to discuss changes. Target continued to develop its corporate giving policy, and even encouraged other corporations to follow Target’s lead in donating 2-5% of profits to the community. Target’s strong relationship with the community eventually helped it to thwart a hostile takeover by the Dart group.

    In today’s tough economy, Target has retained its trendy, innovative and yet affordable reputation. Its positioning in the discount retail market is unmistakable. If you ask any business minded consumer what Targets values are, they would be known. The fact that these valued have not changed much since Target’s inception is remarkable given that there has been so much evolution within the past decade due to technological, political, and economic advancements.

  57. Chen-Yu Tsai

    One of key successful factors for target is their advertising and promotion. Their highly recognizable image such as “Bull’s Eye” logo can easily catch everyone’s eye.
    Besides, Target worked with famous advertising agency to create a series of creative advertising campaign that defined the targets spirit. Target wants to create ultimate emotional connection with customer and try to make buzz as possible as they could.

    This is weird for discounted retailer because they always focus on how to slash price but rarely focus on those fancy marketing stuff. But if we can think on the different way, great marketing strategy could successfully bring more consumers to the store and therefore create more sales.

    Target also aligned itself with celebrity charities. They sponsored the hottest events and collaborate with professional athletes. It focused on building a brand that can enforce their equity. Customers are easily to associate with these things to target, and it is hard to believe that this is a discounted retailer.

    And compared with its arch rival Wal-Mart, they focus more on supply chain automation and inventory control but less on marketing. This does not mean Wal-Mart is wrong. But having brand spirit is where Target surpassed Wal-Mart. People like Target’s creativity, design, and its connection. The emotional touch is priceless. It will establish future patronage where most companies are looking for.

  58. Joe Zahensky

    This part of the book focused on the importance of good management. It explained how Target used the ideas and values of its top management personnel to grow the company. Target never compromised on its plan to give the customer style at an affordable price. Its top management always listened to the customers and tried to keep them happy. Target worked hard to learn what its customer base was looking for and then gave them exactly what they wanted. In addition, Target gave a lot back to the communities. They always gave at least 5% of their pre-tax profits to charity.

    The relationship between Target and its customers has been second to none. They continuously looked for ways to make the customer happy. Target always followed the trends in fashion to make sure they did not lose their target market. The customer’s relationship with the brand is very important to a company’s success and through philanthropy and good management, Target has been able to have a very positive relationship with its customers.

  59. JIA TANG

    In the last few chapters of “On Target” by Laura Rowley, the most impressive part for me is Target’s philanthropy. Not only do they care about their own profit, Target also cares about every “human being” in the world. As long ago as 1946, George Nelson Dayton formalized the long-standing policy of giving away 5 percent of pretax profits, which was the upper-limit for a company’s donation under federal law at that time, and even in 1999, the median ratio of U.S. corporate contributions to domestic pretax income was merely 1 percent. It’s not uncommon for a company to contribute when significant disaster happens or occasionally funding non-profit organizations, but a company like Target, who continuously donates 5% of its pre-tax income to social responsibilities year by year and formalizes it as a company tradition is very rare. They give toys such as Teddy bears away to children in fire stations, and invest in education and art, not only in the States, but all over the world. This tradition also led to an upswing in Target’s reputation. They also emphasize environment friendliness. I really like the idea of making dog food bowls from recycled shopping carts. All of this not only differentiates Target from its competitors via its stylish products, exquisite environment, as well as special effort with social responsibilities.
    At the end of the book, it is also indicated that if a company want to succeed, it must be good at something consumers care about. There is always enough room in the market for someone who is really good at something. Target is good at the discount fashion industry, so it can compete with the retail magnet Wal-Mart, who is good at low prices. Some challenges such as scarce food products and the complex path to globalization are also presented by the author. Although Target has a higher profit margin, 31%, compare to Wal-Mart, 21%, Wal-Mart’s has a far larger market share compared to almost every single corporation in the retail industry. It uses its “everyday low price” strategy to attract the world. But as the second largest discount retailer, Target even hasn’t made the first move towards the global market. Whether its concept of “discount department store” can be accepted by the rest of the world is uncertain especially in the emerging markets. The future developments and important decisions seem not so easy for Target to make, cautious consideration and comprehensive analysis are required before they make further movements.

  60. Kristen Greco

    The last four chapters concluding “On Target” delve into Target’s management, growth, philanthropy, and challenges that they currently face.

    Management at Target is kept in line using a system of checks and balances. The Board of Directors reviews the CEO’s performance which determines his bonus. Employees complete a self-evaluation which is reviewed by their bosses. Their bosses do the same and give it to their bosses and the process continues through the ranks up to the CEO. This verifies that no one person has as excess of power and that bonuses are justified. Target management also encourages workers on “the front lines”, by offering them rewards and promotions, to identify problems as they arise. This way, issues can be addressed immediately and top management does not miss problems they otherwise would not have known about. Customers and employees stay happy and the company makes money.

    Target was one of the first companies to look towards the future. They knew when it was time to expand and did so in a controlled manner that ensured that they had the means to do so – unlike K-mart who signed leases for 33 stores before they even opened for business. Target set up five year plans and set high expectations. By setting benchmarks that measured their performance against specific goals, and focusing more heavily on profits, the company was able to fund their expansion.

    Throughout its history, Target has made sure to take care of their surrounding communities. They have made the choice to be completely honest in their advertising and accounting practices, offered generous return policies, and have even made giving away 5% of pretax profits away to those in need a standard practice. George Draper Dayton knew how important it was to help those less fortunate and in 1918 created the Dayton Foundation. That year he also gave $1 million to help organizations in the community mainly focused on at-risk youth. The giving has continued over the years maintaining his legacy.

    Target does currently face some challenges. Several states have passed regulations which restrict the growth of “big-box retailers” such as Target’s mega store – which has slowed expansion. Other issues include competing with Wal-Mart over groceries, labor issues, and Target’s seemingly “arrogant attitude”.

    As always, Target continues to uphold its values and offer high quality products at fair values. Their success has been a direct result of putting their customers first and the policies that are maintained in their stores. No retailer seems to have set as high a standard as Target and they have truly raised the bar for their competition.

  61. Andrew Kneller

    Who Target Is and What Target Does

    Rowley captures the who and the what of Target right out of the gate as she begins “On Target.” She clearly outlines that Target is a discount mass market retailer that fosters a pleasant shopping experience and strives for trendy fashion in their products. Unique to other mass retail stores, namely Wal-Mart, Target keeps consumers coming back by making it enjoyable to shop. Their stores are clean and intuitively laid out. Employees are helpful but no overbearing. Rowley also goes into great detail about how Target has partnered with mid-level fashion designers to work on merchandise for their stores. By employing the creative genius of the likes of Michael Graves, Todd Oldham, Mark Ecko, and Philippe Starck, Target has set itself apart as offering high quality design that is progressively fashionable at affordable prices for the masses. Rowley goes on to explain how this aspect of Target’s mission is in line with the changing consumer culture. The 1990’s brought an era that embraced getting a good deal on clothing. It became more common to have a high end peace such as a jacket from a well know designer but a casual shirt or scarf from a trendy discounter. Target filled a growing demand for cheap style. The next focus of the book is on Target’s advertising and marketing which served to elevate the bull’s eye logo to an instantly recognizable image that conveyed the values of the Target brand. Target also benefited from rolling out programs such as bridal and baby registries, uncharted water for discount stores, as well as a rewards charge card that donates to the school of the shopper’s choice.

    Doesn’t Target Sell More Than Clothes?

    As a criticism, I believe Rowley focuses too narrowly on the clothing merchandise Target offers as an explanation of Target’s strategy. If you read this book having never walked into a Target store you would expect that clothing is the majority of their inventory. This is certainly not the case. Apparel has been between 20-22% of Target’s sales over the last three years compared to “consumables and commodities” that represent 32-34% of sales and “electronics, entertainment, sporting goods and toys” that represent between 22 -23% of sales (see pg 3 2008 10-k). At the very least, Rowley neglects even mentioning two major sections of Target’s sales, consumables and electronics etc, that must factor in heavily to Target’s success and their business strategy.

  62. Yu Lin Lee

    The second half of the book was covered the rise of George Draper Dayton, his business attitude and principles, and how his business philosophy affects and helps the following successor. At the very last part of the book, the author talked about the challenge which Target faced.
    After reading above chapters, I was impressive by Mr. Dayton’s management style. Sometimes, the description of the book made me feel Mr. Dayton put more emphasis on corporate social responsibility than maximize profits of the company. And this positive activity also helps his company to pass through several challenges, such as hostile takeover. In fact, this is a great material which can be used to teach business ethic. Compared with the ethic theory, I believe a good example always can motivate people more. In fact, nowadays, businessmen tend to be shortsighted; people likes to see a good result within a short period. Thus, we have an agency problem. Actually, during the 1900s-1940s, I believe that there was only few people will know the importance of corporate image. Although I am not sure either Mr. Dayton deliberately built his own credibility of the local community or his innately personality make him become such a generous person, his company did benefit from his heritage a lot. As a result, today, Target still gives away 5% of its profits to the people who needed help.
    Besides, Target also set a good paradigm of developing his successor. In Asia, it is rare to see a family business would like to transfer it reign to the professional manager so smoothly and peacefully. Moreover, after resigning from the position, these family members hardly stepped in the professional manager’s decision. So that Target could become even bigger and stronger until nowadays. It all attributed to the company culture which originally set by Mr. Dayton.

  63. Sylvia Chow

    The last three chapters of the book focused on Target’s growth strategies and corporate values, its philanthropy, and challenges faced at the time when the book was written.

    In chapter 9, Laura Rowley illustrated the strategic planning process at Target. It showed how the executive team crafted a written document, Guides for Growth, that spelled out the vision, mission, corporate values, and growth strategies for every employee at Target to understand and follow. Each division at Dayton Hudson was in fact using a similar process to conduct SWOT analysis, identify issues, develop corrective plans of action, and implement the plans by giving people a sense of ownership of the decisions and results. In the “growth guides”, Target heavily emphasized the importance of honesty in dealing with customers. It also established style and family values as the main factors that differentiate Target from its competitors.

    Target’s commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen, as shown in its honest dealing with customers, was further explained by its philanthropic involvements. By giving away 5% of the store’s pretax profits to support charitable causes and help the local communities, Target gained community support to fight off a takeover attempt in 1987. The main idea is that building a positive reputation requires a cumulative effort. (It reminded me of the corporate citizenship component in the simulation that a continued investment over a 4- to 5-year period in corporate citizenship could boost image rating.) It takes time to develop the relationship with local communities from whom the company generates sales.

    The last chapter talked about a number of challenges faced by Target. One of the most salient issues was the labor mistreatment in Target factories overseas. Although Target did not admit any wrongdoing, it was ironic to see how it contrasted to what Target was doing at home. It gave me an impression that Target was inconsistent in its commitment to ethical practices. The fact that Target denied any accusation by stating that it relied on auditors to check factory conditions was similar to Wal-Mart’s response to its overseas labor issues. Wal-Mart claimed to have audited its overseas suppliers on a regular basis but it was later revealed that only 10% of the audit was unannounced. I am not sure about Target’s factory audit procedure but I highly doubt the effectiveness of the audits.

  64. Erica Meyer

    This last part of the novel was probably the most interesting to me. It discusses Target’s guides for growth in the coming decades, as well as its ongoing philanthropic efforts, and the upcoming (or since passed) challenges the corporation will face. It intrigued me how Target has been in the forefront of corporate social responsibility years before it became popular and under the scrutiny of the public eye. Ever since the Dayton family started in retail in 1918, Target has been donating near maximum limits to organizations like the Dayton Foundation, which supported churches, institutions of higher education and museums to promote the betterment of humanity. They currently have the “Take Charge of Education” program, which donates a certain amount of each Target credit card members’ purchase to the school of their choice. Even small initiatives such as making environmentally friendly shopping carts has shown the world what Target stands for.

    The section of the novel that I had been waiting for was its piece on Target’s challenges. The author touches on every positive aspect of Target throughout the book, leaving readers to think it is a miracle corporation, almost too good to be true. This was an appropriate end to the book, as we can learn about the obstacles they will face, and actually witness them falter or flourish in the process. For example, in regards to Target advertising, Gobe says, “Within a couple of years they will be entering a maturing phase-and at that point they need to think about reinvention so they don’t lose their edge” (page 186). Recently, I have been seeing just that: Target commercials are focusing much more on fashion for the family, rather than just being fashionable. The ads feature less red bulls-eye logos and trendy black and white backdrops, and have been featuring more family motifs and montages. Whether or not this is a wise strategic move on Target’s part has yet to be seen, but hopefully they will accomplish their strategy of taking market share from the family store, Wal-Mart, while still maintaining its fashionable edge.

  65. Peter Choi

    Chapters 5 to 8 deal with Target’s usages of technology and attention to customer service, founder George Draper Dayton, his descendants, and how their management style shaped that Target is today.

    When it comes to better service, it starts with better workers. Workers who are happy and see themselves having a career in retail are the the most sought out. Target adopted Disney’s way to train workers to lower turnover, boost productivity, and give workers a sense of self worth. Low level employees can use heir best judgement when dealing with customers, and lower managers can manage any way they want as long as they meet benchmarks.
    The usage of operations technology is used to improve Target’s bottom line. They employed a service called Partner’s Online, (a very simple version of Walmart’s Retail Link) so suppliers can tell what has sold well in Target stores every week. Target uses smart cards to track customer spending habits and to build customer loyalty. Users are given financial rewards like coupons when they pay using these cards.

    George Draper Dayton didn’t know that his humble and honest roots would eventually have him found a multibillion dollar corporation. With each successive generation of Daytons, every one of them seemed to like different aspects of the business. One liked selling. Others liked to dabble in the financial aspects. All of them however did their jobs with honesty and with hard work. When a management decision was made, they invested in that decision in an uncompromising way. Their goals are benchmarked against targets they set.

    Target’s management style relies on goals, benchmarks, and feedback. They were supplimented by good training programs and performance reviews which its criteria was set by the boss and the worker.

    Reading through these chapters, I have to say, Target’s management’s pedigree is the most surprising of these chapters. I’m not so surprised that George Dayton is an honest, hard working man. I’m surprised that everyone else after him were consistently honest, hard working men too. Striving to be a better company, it isn’t surprising that Target adopted technology quickly to serve its means.

    For example, Target wants to build brand loyalty. In the beginning, Dayton’s best customers were given credit lines, which were settled at the end of the month. As credit cards become more common place, this was expanded to the general population. Smart cards were given out its best customers. I liked this idea: give its best customers “elite status” by giving them exclusive access to smart cards. In turn, Target gets to see what sells well with its best customers. Even when Target moved from being department store centric to discount retailer, it still manages to treat its best customers “slightly” better than the rest.

  66. Sumit Kaushik

    The middle chapters go more deep inside Dayton family. George Draper Dayton always relied on his morals and his religious faith to lead him in the right direction. His risk-taking attitude, out of the box thinking and ability to foresee what the trends were going to be shows his intellectual persona. Dayton brothers always stayed true to their values while pursuing bold investments and reinforced the principles like quality, value, and service each time a new venture has been pursued.

    The last few chapters examine Target’s management excellence, growth, philanthropy, and challenges, which company is currently facing. Employees’ bonuses were based on their performance reviewed by their bosses through self-evaluation process. Encouragement to workers on “the front lines” to identify problems as they arise, by motivating them with rewards and promotions made sure that problems are addressed immediately without leaving any future issues. By focusing on the growth initiatives, while also trying to constantly improve company’s operations, products and customer services, Target Corporation differentiated itself from others by keeping long-term visionary goal, which was “To create its own market”. It did expansion in controlled manner and set benchmarks to measure its performance against specific goals, and focused more heavily on profits, which helped them in funding its expansion. Target has offered generous return policies, and has been giving 5% of its pre-tax profits to charities and causes, by starting its own Target Foundation.

  67. Sara Schwartz

    The last part of On Target by Laura Rowley goes on to discuss current practices and future practices to help keep Target at the top. First and foremost, with regards to management excellence, Target decided to offer high quality products at lower profit margins as opposed to selling cheap merchandise. Additionally, Ken Dayton instated a concept called “organizational surplus.” The motivation behind this concept was building people. Each high level manager trained a “backup” to replace him in the event of a promotion. This allowed the management know-how to remain in the organization and cut down on training time. Next, we learn about Target’s “Guides for Growth,” a document that laid out the 12 main principles the company must abide by in order to remain competitive and successful. One of these principles included being an “honest dealing store.” This included quality products at fair prices, honest advertising, generous refund and rain check policies, and honest accounting practices. Some other aspects of the guide for growth was targeting young families and catering to them (shopping carts with two-seater carts), keeping the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis to keep up on the latest trends and styles, creating heroes at every level. Subsequently, we go on to learn about Target’s Philanthropic efforts. Target remains one of the most generous corporations in the country by giving away 5% of their pretax income, and of these amount 40% goes to social action, 40% goes to the arts, and the remaining 20% goes to everything else.

    After concluding the book I am even more impressed with Target’s ability at being so successful. It is clear it is not something that has just come naturally, but is a product of their successful programs, image building, and management training. Target has created a relationship with its customers that foster loyalty like no other store I can think of. They have set their guidelines and principles out (via the Guide for Growth) and have not lost focus from this path to success.

  68. Chi Man Yoon

    After reading this book, I felt this book might be written for company advertisement considering the tone of the book contents. Possibly because I missed a lot of essential business strategic points, personally I cannot say this book interesting.
    But it is sure that it provided us where came from their tradition and how they construct their brand image and did business well as one of the most successful retail companies. Over the century, they have been a reputable company in the industry, it would not be explained by couples of words but some of them would be consistency and sound policy and good management with constant strategic change for current of time. I am very envy American people because they have companies like target respected and loved by public for the long time not because how they success in their business but because how they have been contributing their society where they are.
    As a comment for this book, I think I should read some other books to write good report, I didn’t, but anyway I feel that It would be better this book has more detailed information about what and how they made strategic decision to cope with industry environment change or to compete with other companies especially big giant, Wal-Mart.

  69. Andrew Kneller

    Satisfied Customers Through Team Members and Inventory Management

    In the final chapter of current business practices and strategies before getting into the history of Target, Laura Rowley details how Target has kept customers happy through “Service and Technology.” Target has maintained a high level of customer service or recovered from dips in service by carefully selecting workers that are the right fit for the job and are more likely to stay with the company. An employee rating system has also been used to identify and address problems with the work force. On the tech side, Target has pleased customers with state-of-the-art inventory management systems that have increased the speed of checkout and increased the knowledge team members can easily access about product availability. Target waited to launch its internet site and avoided mistakes made by competitors so its site fostered the company’s relationship with its customers.

    From George Draper Dayton’s Baby to Public Company

    Rowley spends considerable time pouring over the company’s history from its birth when George Draper Dayton bought a share of the Goodfellow Store in the early 1900’s through the changing face of the retail industry with the rise of the discounter and the conversion of the company to the publicly traded Target Company it is today. Through this timeline of the company, Rowley points out how the values of George Draper Dayton such as “buy and sell only merchandise of dependable quality and honest value at its level” permeated the leadership of his descendants as they ran the business generation after generation.

    History Belabored

    As a criticism, Rowley drags out the history well beyond the point necessary to identify the roots of Target. Just as an example, she dedicates six pages to Dayton’s work history and entrepreneurial endeavors prior to ever being involved in the retail industry. She recounts every name change and slight shift in Dayton’s business as the Goodfellow Store slowly evolves into the present day Target. Rowley could have achieved similar results by summarizing that the values that Dayton used in running his first department store permeated the generations to follow him in running Target. Dayton was committed to the customer, his employees, and the larger community. The emphasis he placed on quality products and service could have been easily demonstrated through a few of the anecdotes Rowley has in the book rather than the history lesson on the Dayton family and its descendants. The main problem with all the background information is that sidelines what has been happening in the company in more recent years as the company has seen its share of struggles internally and in industry changes.

  70. Rebecca Rattmann

    Chapter 8 talks about management excellence. Target became a $100 million company in 1968 and Douglas Dayton “said capturing the niche of “upscale discounter” was key to Target’s long-term success” and in 1962, Douglas first heard Target’s new nickname: ‘Tarzhay.’ In 1967, Target had its initial public offering of 450,000 shares priced at $34 per share. Target acquired 13 regional retailers between 1967 and 1971. Laura Rowley also discusses Target’s “guides for growth.” Target’s guides for growth focus around their policy of being an “honest dealing” store. These guides for growth focus around product quality, honest advertising, staying true to style and family values, operational and people strategies, in addition to technology, presentation, merchandising, and guarantees. The next chapter in the book discusses Target’s philanthropy. Target’s philanthropy, stemming from George Draper Dayton’s founding ideas, has led Target to become one of the most giving companies around. An example of this is its “Take Charge of Education” program, which enables customers to decide what school to donate a percentage of their total purchase to. Target is now focusing on efforts to save the environment and has even been called “a leader in waste reduction” (Rowley 171).
    One interesting article I came across on thebigmoney.com dealing with Target’s philanthropy discussed how Target is starting to let “Facebook users choose how the retail giant spends its charity dollar.” This is one point that Laura Rowley did not mention in “On Target.” This is because “On Target” was published in 2003 and this initiative was just announced in 2009. I feel that this will help Target’s reputation because customers can suggest charities that mean something to them, providing customers with a good feeling about Target.

  71. Pei-Chih Kao

    Dayton’s definitions of business integrity were doing things you ought to do, you agree to do things, and when you agreed to do things. From managing Mr. Dayton’s bank, we can learn his integrity and the way he was dealing with people. His early history of doing business shows his ambition and risk taken characteristic. Dayton established foundation to charity and paid respect to human being. The next generation Dayton family, all members started doing from the bottom of the company and focused on making profit from doing business. Even when they enter to be one of discounters, they still wanted keep their store to be upscale in the discount store market. Daytons were willing to make long term plan-five years into their company and focusing on long term financial goals with very high benchmarks standards. Daytons established a professional management school with General Meal, Honeywell, and Wells Fargo for developing, coaching, and training new managers. From growing scale of Target, Target needs to keep honest to customers and to financial department. Target needs to follow the standard of offering great value shopping experience for consumers with clean store environments. Target runs a good role model of doing charity in the retailer industry. The credit card business boosted Target’s sales, but it also financially hurts Target when bad debts come. Target’s advertising strategy is always bold and edgy, and this would incur disappointed customers with too high expectations.
    Target is a good store to walk around. But actually, how many customers would still regard Target as a great value, high fashion, and fair price store? I believe Target’s differentiation points are decreasing as the competitors follow and catch up in its niche market. In the economy background when author finishing writing this book, the global economy was growing in a bull trend. People have more leisure money to spend on fashion and disposable goods rather than durable and plain products. But with the down trend of the global economy, what Target did to concur this difficult period? Target played the role of discount store and offer more common goods with lower prices and more clearance to survive. Target is a strategic flexible company following Dayton’s philosophy and will be continued in the retail industry.

  72. Chen-Yu Tsai

    One interesting in Target is that they have a document called Guides for Growth which is a principle for doing business every day. One of statements is called “Honesty is the first policy”. It sounds simple but not always easy to follow the rule. For example, if Target is pursuing quality good, then it really serious about finding the most quality product and test by themselves. Unlike other retailer may just put this kind of principle in company’s statement, Target put the principle in priority and carry out them.

    When it comes to anther guideline that Target wants to be a discount store with style, it tried hard to make the store cleaner than K-Mart and Wal-Mar. Target wanted to differentiate form their competitors. Besides, Target also tried to adopt technologies that can help them to develop and improve cost-saving operational efficiency. This made Target a leader in retail technology.

    Another interesting thing is Target’s people strategy, or it could better describe as its management style. The use walkaround management to get insights from their front line employee to understand what should be done and what needs to improve. Manager higher level sometimes can’t find the problem because they always sit in the office and dig number. However, the real problem happened every day. Therefore, it is a clever strategy to get information from people who encountered the problem.

  73. YiRu Lai

    Dayton’s store offered good quality products at low price that means great value was a strategy Dayton carried out through years. In that time, the free delivery, return policy and honest advertising were quite special. His department store even had a bargain center for customers looking for cheap deals. Mr. Dayton was a brave business man who won’t fear failure and got ready to fight for the next chance. Mr. Dayton was good at thinking of surprising strategy and business goal to practice. No matter as time goes by, Mr. Daytons still followed principals like quality, value, service, free return policy. Mr. Dayton was emphasizing on developing human resource and setting up a systematic performance evaluations for employees. Target also focused on improving the operational efficiencies in every store, and regulate each store has the same theme. Target wants all level of their employees to give the straight feedbacks on the problems of stores. These feedbacks can help Target improve their stores and increase the profit. The Daytons’ foundation keep growing through many decays and the foundation keep contributing to society with philanthropy spirit. The retailers like supermarkets have very low margins and the competition is serious, but Target still decided to enter this battle field by SuperTarget to sell food with fashionable image. Because of lower labor costs outside of US, retailers are outsourcing oversea to manufacture their products. Target need to watch more carefully in the competition and price wars. Target needs to watch out the changing of consumer’s preference and be aware not stepping on the path like Gap and Old Navy did.
    One issue come to my mind is the speed of changing fashion preference that exist within the consumers is almost unpredictable. No matter how fast fashion affected consumers’ behavior, the most important thing is affordable and looking nicely. It’s a hard job to predict the future fashion trend because fashion itself is unpredictable. Even the predictions to future global economy can’t really hit the target. Target play a niche in the retailers’ competition, but other competitors might also want to join this field like huge threat-Wal-Mart. We can’t say Wal-Mart will swallow Target’s unique market segment in the future, but Target really need to be careful with the retailer giant.

  74. Chih-Hua Chen

    From the last few chapters of this novel, I found that Target always keeps their eyes on customer relationship and brand image. All the practices they did on training its employees, doing philanthropy are ultimately all for the goods for the customers. By their nonstop efforts, Target went through many difficulties, prevented many unnecessary law sue and earned the popularity among customers. However, unlike all the other chapters, in the last chapter, Target did face pressures from many aspects: Wal-Mart, international outsourcing and competitors expanding…etc. It makes me wonder how Target will deal with these problems.
    After read all these chapters, I think that it is a long road to build brand image and brand equity but very easy to lose them. A true enterprise should really focus on them and must carefully maintain them. Especially in dealing with international ethic issues, company should really understand the differences between different cultures. So that can prevent something bad to happen. Luckily, I am an international student, I have more opportunity to experience different cultures and understand different perspectives. I am really happy about this.

  75. Rajesh Gandhi

    In the remaining chapters, the author explains about two important things.

    First, Target also made wise and well calculated investment in advertising and technology. The company was one of the first to give away credit cards to customers, which helped them gather the purchase pattern of customers. Also, innovate real-time customer relationship management system provided all data in one place. These valuable informations helped them focus their particular advertisements and promotions at specific target customers.
    Second, customer focus culture is deep in the roots of Target. It all started with its founder George Draper Dayton, who strongly believed that quality products at fair price will increase the reputation and bring in more customers. This faith is deeply spread over all the stores across the world.

  76. Peter Choi

    Chapters 9 to 11 talk about Target’s growth strategies, charity and and its ambitions to do good in the world, and the challenges Target currently faces and in the future.

    Target has a history of bright eccentric people working in the corporation. Norman McMillan’s “Guides for Growth” paper outlines Target’s principles on how to grow and better the company. It was made so that workers have a set of guidelines to strive for. The ways to meet these guidelines are up to the workers themselves. It has also been used to make sure the company stays true to its goals. For example, one of its guidelines is to be young family friendly. Target initially sold pornography because it was very profitable, but decided to drop it because it was inconsistent with its guidelines for growth. Since the inception of the paper into company culture, the principles have been routinely modified to better address current and future challenges to growth of the company.

    Target’s philanthropic deeds stem from helping the community and helping those in need. Credit card initiatives that give 1% to all purhcases on the Target card help foster Target’s reputation of being a caring and honest corporation. This helped Target avoid a hostile takeover from the Dart Group. When management caught wind of the takeover attempt, a grassroots campaign to make it difficult to acquire the company started in Minnesota. Laws were subsequently changed to protect Dayton-Hudson (Target) from the takeover.

    Target’s current challenges keeping its core competency of being fashion oriented to stave off competitors. It’s image was impacted when it was associated with indentured labor outside of the US. Its expansion attempts have been impacted by lawmakers suppressing big-box retailers. Finally it has to keep a balance of cutting edge and familiarity to avoid alienating consumer tastes.

    After reading the end of this book, I’ve come to the decision that it’s a decent read for a person who is unfamiliar with its history and decision making. The linking of the Dayton family’s history and values provide a useful link on why the company works a certain way. The book has made be less adverse to shop in it because it portrays Target as a community oriented, generous, environmentally sound, honest thinking corporation. The only gripe I have with the book is that it really sounds like it was written to hype up Target a little too much. In the beginning chapters especially, it kept advertising how Target is great and and do nothing wrong. There wasn’t really a lot of negative views shown. For the most part, its revised return policy was noted as a negative, but that was it. The final chapter of the book is the only place I can tell where some negative comments were made on Target, such being associated with abusing worker’s rights outside of the U.S.

  77. Andrew Kneller

    Hammering Out Strategy

    Rowley winds down “On Target” with a chapter on a critical juncture in Target’s history. In the midst of several years of poor performance, Target executives craft a “manifesto” of strategy and values to be implemented across the company. The document “Guides for Growth” is developed by the Target team apart from the founder’s descendants who were still involved with the company. This set the stage for an ownership of these strategies and values by everyone in the company. “Guides for Growth” explained how Target would stand for honesty, focus on family, empowered employees, and effective use of technology. By putting these values to work in the company, Target was able to rebound from falling profits.

    The Good and the Bad

    The final chapters pair Targets philanthropic endeavors with the challenges the company faces. Target’s commitment to charitable giving has given rise to community support and a favorable view of the company in the mind of his shoppers. This long standing tradition in the company even sparked Target-lovers to get involved politically when Target was in danger of being taken over by another company with dubious intentions. In light of this goodwill, Target has an uphill battle in several areas of its business. Rowley quickly identifies several sticking points for Target as the company goes forward. As Target expands to over more food items, especially in its Super Target locations, it comes in increasing competition with Wal-Mart that has advantage in the volume of groceries it sells. Another conflict comes from activities that have sought the signing of new laws to prevent large retailers from buying property in suburban communities. Yet another conflict is accusations that Target turns a blind eye to labor abuses where its private label products are produced abroad. Target has not taken a very aggressive stand to belay these concerns and appears at least somewhat guilty of allowing these abuses to occur in the production of its products.

    Unsubstantiated Claim

    The subtitle of this book is “How the WORLD’S Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull’s-Eye” (capitalization mine). Nowhere in this book does Rowley make good on the assertion that Target is the hottest in the world. She never compares Target to international retailers and cannot mention Target’s international sales since it only has stores domestically. What exactly makes Target the “world’s hottest retailer?” This is just another piece of evidence that Rowley is a little too much of a cheerleader for Target as others have mentioned. I agree with Chiman who commented about this book seemingly like an advertisement for Target. What’s more alarming is that Rowley has a journalistic background but has no interviews from people who dislike Target. Erica mentioned in her post that she was waiting the whole book for a critical look at Target and was happy to find the “Challenges” chapter. I agree but can’t help but notice that this chapter is little more than a footnote that is more or less swept under the rug. The subsections of this chapter given little space to even flush out the problems Target is facing. They are the shortest subsections of the entire book, some not even a full page worth of text.

  78. Amit Shilon

    This book has a very clear purpose so far; to emphasize target’s differentiated status among discount retailers in the industry. Since its roots, the retailer has focused on providing a “democratization of fashion and style”. This is to say it provides high fashion at lower prices, attracting customers from all social classes. They have done this by employing some well-known, and some not as well-known, but equally creative and innovative designers. They have been able to cut theses costs with economies of scale, new “supply chain efficiencies”, technology(internet), and better info and distribution networks. To back all of this up is an extremely creative marketing department that has brought new levels to their advertising which has brought millions into their stores. The national trend starting in the early 90’s saying, getting a better cheaper deal is no longer “declasse” as brand names become less relevant, has been a key to their success. Oh yeah, and a touch of philanthropy that has earned consumer support and respect.

    In light of these wonderful comments, I’d have to say this book, so far, is merely a huge promotion of Target. It really has made only great assessments of the retailer and has been a huge advertisement taunting me to go check out the store, and magically want to buy stuff.(I was there today, I just don’t see the magic.) Anyhow, this may be due to the family involvement with the retailer. The author’s cousin is a one of these innovative designers Target has employed, of course the author would not want to bash the store that is making money for family.

  79. Amit Shilon

    The mid section of this book takes a huge turn from the promotional basis of the first third. Instead we get to look a little more underneath the brand name. The more recent history of Target suggests success with their SCM(mostly inventory control), and real time CRM. CRM reached an all time witth the installation of the Visa Smart card, Target being one of the first retailers to do so. It allowed them to see where else customers were chopping and what they were buying. A partnership with Amazon fostered a healthy e-business, who’s goal was to create a closer relationship with the customer. Finally, a negative is seen in their return policy. “Speed is Life”, become the company slogan under CEO Bob Ulrich, a laid back yet competitive strategist who sees the rapid technology growth as the biggest factor in Target’s success. Then a very in depth look at the history of the company, looking deeply into the founding family, and their strategies which at times worked and at others didn’t, but the overall huge desire to enter the discount business pushed them through struggle. To note, emphasis on talent in the company, mentoring future management, setting proper goals and objectives, and passion become prevalent themes underlying the business.

    I found there to be an excess of unnecessary biography of the founders and different employees. I don’t think we need to know this much about their personal and family lives to understand Target, which is the purpose of this book. However, compared to the first part of the book, the mid section has a lot more for an MBA student to learn; Just basic ideas of strategy and some interesting moves the company made, often ahead of their time or at least competition. We all learn the beginnings of the discount industry and the different formats it took. The amount of information about the Dayton’s and different employees can get confusing to follow and keep track of, but it is interesting to see how the company fared differently as each of them got involved in it and also when they left.

  80. Amit Shilon

    The last three chapters of this book give the reader much more insight on what, why, and how the company is the way it is today. Chapter 9 talks about how the beginnings were essentially a period of finding themselves, more precisely the identity of the company. They found trouble in expanding to fast under poor management. To overcome this they developed “guides for growth” a few were based on: quality and detail, honesty in advertising, holding high moral, ethical, and cultural standards, being clean, defining themselves as discount with style, and target the young family demographic. Chapter 10 talks about the deeply rooted great attachment to corporate social responsibility. An extensive synopsis gives us the details of this, telling us also their motive: that a healthy community will bring them healthy sales. The final chapter talks about the challenges Target will face. Briefly; Walmart, differentiating their grocery market, opposition to their expansion, accusations of bad practices overseas, rise in bad debt, and potential for them seeming pretentious with their emphasis on style.

    Chapter 9 was especially useful when comparing to the rest of the book. The underlying themes of honesty and idealism give hope to an MBA who has not seen these ideals very often in a business setting. Also the portrayal of Norman McMillan was by far my favorite executive in the book. He had a certain panache that was unique and which most would think wouldn’t work with a large corporation but it really did. He saw that the answers lie within the employees, it seems so simple in hindsight.

  81. Raman Vyas

    Smart advertisement is one the most important reasons for the success of target The famous bull’s eye logo , Tag lines such as “expect more pay less “ worked wonders for target. The advertisements of target are strategy not just creative expression. The bull’s eye logo and no store name is a message which shows the emotional attachment of consumers with the brand, it signifies that the picture is enough no names are required. . The all advertizing and brand name is solidly backed by a highly efficient supply chain management , vendor evaluation , vendor partnerships , ruthless cost cutting and planning The book does mention one flaw in the target’s way of handling business which is that target does not accept returns without the receipt which left few irate customers.
    The book takes you to a journey of the lives of Dayton Generation. How George Draper Dayton a son of a small town doctor became a legend! His journey from making an eight storey building on Nicolet to his sons and grandsons making history with target. It is unbelievable but it is mentioned in the book that one can be honest and successful at the same time , Sadly honesty and success do not go together these day but it did worked for target . The Dayton’s were so into charity that in a bad business time the Dayton’s had to survive with the store salary they received , which reflects the height of genialness of the Dayton family. The Dayton family was successfully expanding their upscale business, but at the same time they were constantly threatened by the fast emerging discount industry. Which at 1962 was worth 4.5 billion dollars and there were 1500 such stores. Seeing an emerging market as a threat, Dayton’s opened their first target “An upscale discount store “in Roseville, Minnesota. This decision was not appreciated at that time but certainly is appreciated worldwide today. Over the years under excellent management and by devoting numerous resources on developing talent target turned out to be one of the best in its class. The unique management things such as reviewing the CEO and the chairman by the board which made target so special. Decades have passed world has changed , cultures have changed, but target way of business remained the same and it is because of this that the company was such a different enterprise than Kmart or sears ; it was the willingness of Dayton family to offer upscale product at low prices that allowed target to prosper so much.
    Related Diversification and Competitive advantage
    Dayton’s operated a departmental store , they were selling quality goods at a fair price , targeting specific income level people , providing free deliveries and return policies which were quite unique at that time . Over the time the store expanded and earned profit even during depression. Dayton kept on expanding the store and followed the principles set up by their forefathers. Things were different back than no matter where consumer shopped coveted brand names were sold at almost the same prices everywhere, the rationale was if larger store gets the discount than they will pass the discount to consumers and as a result small mom and pop will suffer and would be forced out of business that will further increase the un employment. In 1950’s things began to change and restriction on selling prices were gradually uplifted and chains such as Arians , J.M fields , Interstate stores etc jumped into discounting store business .
    Related diversification means that expanding into related fields, the combination of certain related activities can reduce cost and the existing firm can use its brand name, and can also collaborate and use value chain activities to enhance the competitive capabilities of the firm. Dayton’s saw the opportunity “The diamond in the rough world of the mass retailer “, they diversified the department store business to Target “the quality

  82. Kristen Drumheller

    Chapters 9 and 10 focused on Target’s guide for growth and its philanthropy. One of Target’s first decisions was to remain an “honest dealing” store by maintaining its quality products at fair prices, testing products, honest advertising and accounting. Another was to remain a fashion-forward store with clean, stylish interiors. In addition, Target discontinued stocking adult magazines in order to make it more family-friendly. Target also shifted focus on operational efficiencies and feedback mechanisms. The company aimed to maintain its Philanthropy initiatives, such as donating 5% of its pretax profits, establishing the Dayton Foundation that aided social action, the arts, and the environment, and promoting employee volunteering, and giving customers the choice of educational program for Target to donate to upon using their Target VISA charge card.

    I agree with Target’s decision to make the store more family-friendly by removing adult magazines. It’s actually a wonder why that area was so profitable considering that the book claimed that 4 out of 5 shoppers were female in Chapter 1 page 15. I like that Target made decisions such as pulling Playboy off the shelves to preserve its consistent image, despite possible monetary loss. That reinforces that Target is truly a company with values.

  83. Andrew Sheynin

    The beginning of On Target, by Laura Rowley, consists of a brief summary of the company’s origination, and then immediately goes into praising the retailer for its unique market position. It describes the difference between the typical discount store and Target’s ability to remove itself from the generalized perception of unpleasant shopping and warehouse-like atmosphere. The book makes a comparison between Wal-Mart and Target, claiming that although Wal-Mart has a solid position within its own niche, it would have to revolutionize its image over time in order to compete on Target’s turf of stylish quality products. The notion of luxury and designer items for low prices is the primary theme throughout Rowley’s description of the retailer, paired with successful company branding and advertising. Target aims to use its high quality designer products to boost its own brand name, as it subordinates those products to its own image in order to appeal to its target demographic. The author also mentions the company’s sophisticated information and distribution systems, claiming that it is able to receive fashionable looks at the same time as upscale retailers. With its effective positioning and efficient supply chain, Target is able to provide the prices of a discount store yet create the atmosphere of an upper scale department store, in which the shopping experience is as pleasant as the price benefits.

    Overall, the book fails to provide any criticisms about Target’s operations. Especially in the growing stage, issues are bound to come up as the company develops and solidifies its strategy and finds its place in the industry. The author’s description of Target’s history, however, makes it seem like the retailer was successful from the beginning and did not hit any major operational bumps. I believe it would have been more realistic to describe some of the strategic decisions the company had to make to improve its position, since there was likely a time when things did not operate as smoothly. The author’s failure to mention any negative characteristics within the company makes me skeptical about believing every detail in the book. A more realistic balance between Target’s appraisal and constructive criticism would have created a genuine description of the company that I would be more likely to take seriously.

  84. Andrew Sheynin

    Target’s basis for advertising lies in its constant efforts to enhance its brand image. The majority of its advertisements aimed toward a long-term increase in consumer perception of the company. The company participated in sponsoring key fashion events to get its name out to the fashion-seeking crowd, and hired well-known designers and photographers for its advertising campaigns. At the same time, Target depicted its philanthropic image through its charge card program, in which customers are able to donate a percentage of their purchases to a school of their choice. The company’s brand image is amongst its primary marketing advantages, and Target continues to search for ways to achieve long-term image enhancement.
    Throughout the book, Rowley continuously praises Target’s staff performance and customer relationship management. She describes that workers are trained to be optimistic and friendly, and attributes much of the company’s success to the way employees are taught to handle customers. Customers are interviewed twice a year to evaluate the way they’ve been treated throughout their employee interactions, and workers are rewarded based on their performance. The author also describes Target’s real-time customer relationship management system, which tracks every interaction pertaining to each customer and makes the data available to every customer service representative. Target innovates technology to help it keep track of consumer preference, and developed a credit card that tracks and analyzes the shopper’s spending patterns to get a sense of the type of promotion that most suits each buyer. The company puts a lot of emphasis on knowing its consumers and aims to satisfy its primary demographic by understanding what consumers want.
    One criticism I have is about Target’s focus on philanthropy. The company depicts a philanthropic image by participating in various charities and donating money to schools. However, it seems to me like all these efforts are at least somewhat selfish and are part of the company’s attempt to boost its public perception. Marketing its brand name is an essential part of Target’s strategy, and by participating in philanthropic acts the company is able to achieve the publicity it strives for. On top of that, the charge card that allows each shopper to donate a percentage of the purchase to a school seems like a selfless donation, but Target is aware that those shoppers tend to spend more money on purchases as a result of this program. Sure, the company’s values are based on corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community, but I believe it gains a lot more from these philanthropic endeavors than most people consider.

  85. Andrew Sheynin

    The end chapters of the book pertain to its long-term strategy and company philosophy. The company executives strive toward management excellence, and incorporate realistic five-year plans to make sure Target’s control systems and operations are running smoothly and yield long-term achievements. The Daytons made sure to measure the company’s performance based on specific goals and always enabled a plan that would support consistent growth. Target’s focus on long-term results triggered it to implement a school of professional management, in which high-level managers would choose a second-in-command and train him so that he would be qualified to handle a promotion. The company put a heavy focus on human capital and believed that a foundation of quality talent would be responsible for producing long-term positive results.
    In order to project the company’s long-term ongoing strategy and philosophy, Norman McMillan, former VP of strategic planning, lead the executive team toward the creation of Target’s official goal-based document, called Guides for Growth. Among the first decisions within the document was that Target would be an honest dealing store, and would guarantee to deliver on the promises it made. At one point, due to its oath for high quality, the company got rid of entire shipments of shoes that failed the tests at a quality control lab, despite their profit potential. Target would conduct numerous rounds of testing to make sure it was selling what was being advertised.
    Also worth noting is Target’s loyalty to its primary demographic. The company’s main focus is appealing to young families, and it proved its commitment to those consumers when it was challenged by a number of parents to remove adult magazines from its stores. The company decided to adhere to its philosophy on retaining positive consumer relations and got rid of the adult magazine section despite its ability to yield $1 million annually. As a result of this action, Target received a lot of publicity and earned favor amongst the young families it was aiming to appease. In the end, the company’s loyalty to its consumers resulted in a higher perception of its brand.
    One critique I have about Target’s long-term strategies is the basis for its intentions in producing a strategy based on consumer loyalty and honest dealing. It would be nice to believe that the company created its honesty policy out of kindness and to improve the general welfare of society. However, in the book, Rowley describes that “Target’s team knew if they committed to quality, word of mouth would follow” (Rowley 148), leading me to believe that the entire policy is a marketing strategy created to strive toward increased consumer base. “People would notice, and customers would say, ‘I bought that at Target'” (Rowley 148). It seems that the company’s primary concern did not lie in a selfless effort to provide society with honest dealings, but pertained to a hidden agenda to ultimately enhance consumers’ perception of its brand.

  86. Serdar Mercan

    In the following chapters, the author explains the era between 30s and 70s. Throughout this period, George Dayton’s sons and their following generations managed the company in a great harmony with a focus on profit. They expanded the company around Minneapolis and then, with the acquisition of other rival retailers and discounters, they pioneered in building the first enclosed mall in the country. The following chapters, chapter 8 and 9, focus on the management approach of the company as the discounters proliferate in US during the second half of the century. She points out company’s systematical approach, strategic growth planning, employee training and financial excellence in the retailing industry.
    The last two chapters explain Target’s philanthropic activities and the challenges they faced in the past. Target has been well-known for serving local communities and its practice of giving 5% of the company’s annual pre-tax income to communities. As a consequence of being a good corporate citizen and with the help of the community, Target survived a hostile take-over attempt in 1987. Furthermore, the challenges they faced in the past include labor issues in Saipan in Northern Mariana Islands, where the company produces its private-label products, as well as the credit card issues in the economic recession times.

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