Target’s In-Store Shopping Events Draw Millennials
It started as a tactic to drive immediate traffic and sales during the crucial back-to-college period. But in 2015, Target shifted its focus to the long-term. Target wanted college-age shoppers to think beyond comforters and shower caddies, and trips to the store with mom and dad. The brand’s Made for U in-store shopping events celebrated independence and offered transportation, music and relevant activations. Ninety-seven percent of students said they were likely to visit the store again after attending an event. For a savvy demo just starting to flex its brand loyalty muscles, we say: bull’s-eye.
Part of the challenge for Target was upping its cool factor and convincing students that it “gets” them. And it started with the invites. Target zeroed in on 15 universities across the country where brand ambassadors greeted students on campus and distributed a personalized invite to the event and introduction to EventsMadeForYou.com, the digital arm of the program. The invite was a play on the popular and oh-so politically incorrect game Cards Against Humanity that students could then take back to their dorms and play with friends throughout the year… under the halo of Target.
Of course, this strategy wasn’t about sending an invite and hoping they’d show up. Target sweetened the deal with door-to-door service. On the day of the event, students were picked up on campus by bus, which is when the fun began. Target wanted to make authentic connections, so it enlisted non-endemic partners relevant to millennial students for that cool factor—like Chipotle’s bus trivia and Universal Home Studios’ giveaway of “Pitch Perfect 2.” After the bus ride, students entered the store and immediately heard a live dj spinning beats. They could tweet song requests by using the school-specific hashtag, one of the tactics Target used to personalize the experience.
Students socialized, shopped and explored vendor partner activations including: dance-off competitions for Sonos speakers and Target gift cards; an Axe personal style studio that offered custom screen-printed posters and makeovers; Bear Naked product sampling with action photo ops; an immersive Glade spring break escape tent with hammocks, tropical voice-over and sand; a Keurig mock drive-thru coffee experience; and a SpaghettiOs’ prize dig from a giant can. Attendees left the store event with a bounty of samples and full-size freebies, just the thing for the student on a budget.
Millennials prefer experiences over ads and product claims, and as a result of this in-store strategy, Target saw its average sales per school rise by 10 percent over last year. Average attendance to the events grew by 12 percent, too. It wasn’t just a shopping event. It was a social event worth sharing, and a store experience worth having over and over again.