After much anticipation, discount giant Target finally arrived in Canada yesterday, and for some, to mixed pricing reviews. Although the iconic red and white interior stores were visually identical to their U.S counterparts, pricing audits conducted by the media and savvy consumers, showed Walmart offered sharper pricing for many of the comparable items taking some wind out of Target’s promotional slogan of “Expect More. Pay Less”. The soft launch took place in smaller markets in Ontario as part of a pilot program for a phased rollout of the Target brand across Canada.
Canadians are fans of “Tarjay”
Target has planned an aggressive entry into Canada with close to 105 locations slated for opening in 2013. The kinks will eventually be worked out. The Target brand (affectionately known in Canada as “Tarjay”) is well-known and already loved by Canadians who live in communities with easy shopping access to American towns and cities dotting the border between both countries. According to The Toronto Star, Target already enjoys a 70% awareness among Canadian consumers, of whom 30,000 already hold a Target-branded U.S. credit card. Even before yesterday’s store openings, the chain had created a seismic impact on the Canadian retail landscape.
While many critics were quick to point out Target’s pricing gaps, nobody is discounting this savvy discounter. Target is here for the long haul and will fine-tune its pricing to stay a formidable competitor.
Won’t you be my neighbour?
In the quest to win the hearts and purse strings of Canadians, Target has become the first company to ever license the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” song from the iconic PBS ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood’ show and changed the words to “Can’t wait to meet you neighbour”. The song is even sung by the Canadian band, Dragonette. The TV spot communicates Target has spent the past few years learning about Canada and the use of different regional visuals shows it’s working on earning Canadian-wide acceptance. Canadians will be accepting of slightly higher prices as long as they get the same shopping experience as in the U.S with bright clean stores, wider aisles, trendy products and unique designer styles not available anywhere else. Target, not Target Light will win the hearts of Canadians and their wallets.