The Target/Missoni Dilemma; 3 Ideas to Rebuild Loyalty

disappointed about Target's lack of Missoni product

Is there such a thing as bad publicity? Recently (9/13/11) Target premiered a new line designed by Missoni, a fashion knitwear mega-player. Target did a tremendous job promoting the new line as long ques formed outside stores (the website apparently crashed from all the traffic too) in anticipation of the colorful zigzag items.

Blunder or genius?

From the news/blog posts read, you would think that Target really blew this one. They ran out of product almost immediately, and many customers were left angry and empty-handed. Maybe it is the retailer in me, but isn’t it the point to sell out of a limited edition line? I mean what retailer really wants to be sitting on product they can’t move?

Target has partnered with different famous fashion designers for years now, so I can’t chalk this up to inexperience. Perhaps they should have produced more or been better able to read the market. Aren’t we in a recession? People in general seem to be buying less.

Statistics such as regression lines help predict customer demand. I imagine Target employs forecasters somewhere at headquarters. One thing I have learned through my MBA studies is that forecasting is really just a misty crystal ball and you only get it right sometimes.

So now what?

OK, we can argue forever about who is right and wrong in this situation; the pissed off customers, the designer or Target themselves? What I am curious about, is will Target turn this snafu into an opportunity to engage further with the customer?

Twitter and the blogosphere were buzzing about how egregious Target’s lack of planning was. What Target must realize is although the customers are irate, at least they were talking about it. The real shame is when silence occurs and the customers simply leave forever.

There is a really great moment here for Target to build more brand loyalty. Here is a short list of what I think would re-engage the clients in this situation.

  1. Own it! Target needs to step out of the shadows and own the fact that they misread demand and are sorry they made purchasing Missoni product difficult. No one wants to hear excuses, but they do want to be acknowledged for their inconvenience.
  2. Offer complaining customers an alternative. Give an appeasement discount to those who were disappointed for their next purchase. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to offer a 10-20% discount and along with acknowledging the problem, this would help rebuild loyalty.
  3. Start a Target/fashionista fan club. There are people who want to be in the know and don’t want to miss the next greatest collection offered at Target. They can not only offer club member discounts but perhaps prepurchasing items so that they can avoid the crowd. Target could limit the amount of items available for purchase on a pre-sale but these items should remain exclusive to club members.

lesson learned: There is no such thing as bad publicity, only missed possibilities

So do you think Target learned anything from all this? Now is the time for them to not only fix a problem, but solidify their position in the discount/high fashion industry. It is true that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. There will always be disappointed customers for one reason or another.

The question I ask of Target is how much do they care about their customers? What steps have they done to ensure success next time? Lastly, what are they going to do now to soothe the masses? Send me your thoughts and comments on the matter.

5 thoughts on “The Target/Missoni Dilemma; 3 Ideas to Rebuild Loyalty

  1. Raven says:

    I’m pissed and it’s going to be a long time before I go back to Target. Looking for the stuff from the Missoni collection was a joke on the first day it was out. The web site was also a sad affair. Those EBay vultures were the worst. A pox on anyone who buys from them!


    1. miriamgomberg says:

      Raven, I understand your frustration. I was talking to someone who said that 2 women bought all of the Missoni items at her local Target and left nothing for anyone else. The worst part is that these items probably are on Ebay as we speak.

      Hopefully Target will not make the same error again and will do something to repair customer relations.

      Thanks for your comment Raven! Miriam


  2. ElizOF says:

    It is a real shame that they didn’t make the effort to control distribution and have more product… Drag! 😦
    I’m finally catching up on everyone’s blog. Thank you for your patience! 🙂


      1. eof737 says:

        Me too… I went the day of to shop for one of my kids… There was nary a Missoni item in sight… Ridiculous. I love Target but what’s the point in pumping people up and then no product… Anyway, checking in to see how you are doing as we haven’t read a post from you lately.
        Hope all is well. 🙂


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