Are you over the shock yet?
You know what I’m talking about. Target Canada announced early this morning they were closing all 133 Canadian locations and pulling out – lock, stock and barrel. After less than two years! What seemed a sure thing has quickly crumbled to the point of being what is described as “an epic failure.” It is sure to be one that will be studied in marketing and merchandising courses for years to come.
So, what happened? I’m not qualified to give an expert view from either the marketing or consumer side, but as far as expectations go, it is a fairly simple analysis. They did not meet expectations. Not those of the company, nor those of the consumer. They quite simply did not manage the expectations set before them.
Those interviewed outside stores today repeated the critique that the service and satisfaction that was delivered in U.S. stores, and experienced in cross-border shopping, never materialized. Experts in the field of consumer merchandising noted that their price point consistently paled beside WalMart’s. And their stores were frequently lacking in products, with empty shelves promising to be refilled, but left vacant for weeks. The customers just moved on to the stores that had the stuff they were looking for.
Perhaps the most damning comment came from an insider who sought to remain anonymous in the interview he gave today. He said that Target, who largely took over Zellers stores, were given free access to that company’s marketing figures. But they ignored them, thinking they were irrelevant to what they were about to do. This was seen as both arrogant and foolish. It ultimately led to expectations that were entirely unrealistic for bringing Target into a whole different culture. And this is the result.
I said it in my last blogpost, and I repeat it now with this stark example before us:
Knowing this material in itself is never enough. We still have to apply it!
I will let those experts in the Canadian economy and the store scene speak with their great knowledge and facts and figures. It will be necessary analysis. But at the end of the day, the real reason is there for us to see. They mismanaged their expectations, and those of their customers. What a shame.
© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2015
“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press – www.scarletcordpress.com