You’ve got to feel a little bit sorry for Target. The retailer managed to secure hot, hot, hot Italian designer, Missoni, to create a low-price, limited edition product range exclusively for Target. It generated gold publicity about the September 13th launch and even built a concept store at New York’s Fashion Week. And then it all fell apart. What went wrong?
The unlikely partnership was announced earlier in the year with blogs, social media, print and TV advertising building steady excitement in the market. Launch date was eagerly marked in calendars across the nation but by 7:47am on M-day, 13th September, the chaos began. The target.com website crashed. And crashed badly. And inside stores, shoppers described crazy scenes of stockpiling and aggression. In no time, the shelves were bare.
For customers able to secure the hot loot online, elation quickly turned to frustration when some received emails advising that their order would be delayed and in some cases not honored. But they had already paid the money. Now, tirades are being written against the company in every available medium.
So, it turns out Target rolled out a new website in late August and as one blogger noted, “It’s definitely not ready for prime time and was either rushed out to meet a deadline or there is a big team of idiots behind it.” It’s filled with lazy coding and poor quality pages.
The Missoni launch should have been a positive experience for Target but instead, it created a tsunami of unhappy customers. All that hype converted to disappointment. And now customers are threatening to boycott them.
Be very careful with your brand and your promises. Get it right or risk alienating the very people you rely on for sales.
Have you weathered a near crisis with your customers? Tell us about it in the comments.
4 Replies to “Missing the Bulls-eye: Lessons from Target’s Spill”
Why do we have to “feel a bit sorry for Target”? This seems like an example of exceptional management incompetence where they let their excitement about marketing overcome their ability to perform. I’d say that a few heads should roll for spending what must be huge sums of money without taking the time to figure out how to make it all work perfectly when the launch day arrived.
As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, during times of technological advance the great ones react “with calm equanimity and quiet deliberate steps forward—while the mediocre ones lurch about in fearful, frantic reaction.”
And that lurching without reflection and planning lead to the disaster you describe.
We’ve been discussing this in my household – was it really a miss? The Target website’s shut-down due to overwhelming response to the Missoni offering made national news everywhere. People who had never heard of Missoni or had no interest were suddenly talking about it and running to Target to buy in-person. So was that really a failure or did it turn out to be a huge coup for them?
How does the old saying go: there is no such thing as bad PR? Well, it’s hard to tell if that saying holds water here.
Another example is the JC Penny “debacle” that Paul wrote about earlier in the year. It was a bad run of PR, but they also made a good amount of money during their peak season – who is to say that the brand reputation really carried forward?
The question is: will you not be buying from Target in the near future, much like Netflix drove away thousands of customers by bungling its recent pricing change?
I have a feeling there will be a few people who will dig in and suggest they will never buy from Target again, especially those who were directly impacted by it (some folks who had their wedding registry listed with them for example) but it feels like simply fodder for a case study for us technical folks of what not to do rather than a hugely brand damaging exercise.
Interestingly I didn’t even read about the MIssoni stuff until you just pointed it out but I certainly followed along with the server outages and the usability issues and was quite amazed at how many basic elements were not even considered. Too many cooks? Maybe. Poorly managed? Definitely.