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Small format gets a new name

So Target plans to call its new small format stores CityTarget. It was a little over a year ago the company first disclosed plans to open stores ranging from 60,000-sq.-ft. to 100,000-sq.-ft. in urban locations, but the new name was revealed only last week in connection with the announcement of a 2012 opening of a small store in downtown Chicago.

Not quite sure what to make of the new name, but the folks in Target’s marketing department know a thing or two about branding so the inclination is to give the company the benefit of the doubt that the choice is a wise one. Surely, rigorous consumer research was conducted and alternatives were tested with various shoppers segments before CityTarget was established as the optimal name for a potential new growth vehicle.

Nevertheless, inquiring minds want to know why a separate name is required at all. 

Perhaps the wisdom of Target’s ways will be revealed once the first of these stores open and shoppers are able to see for themselves just how differentiated the shopping experience is between a CityTarget, a Target and a SuperTarget.

For now, what the company is saying about the store is that “CityTarget will offer guests the convenience of one-stop shopping with affordable fresh food, apartment essentials, on-trend fashions and exclusive designer collections.”

That’s not a lot to go on, but a year ago when the urban strategy was disclosed at an analysts’ meeting in Philadelphia. Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel indicated the product assortments in these smaller stores would be comprised of the highest velocity categories blended with products tailored to the unique need of urban customers.

If the product mix and guest experience is substantially differentiated from other Target and SuperTarget stores then a unique identity is warranted. If not, then it is simply confusing and customers will wonder why the store in downtown Chicago is called CityTarget while a unit less than a mile away in the shadow of downtown is known simply as Target.

It has already become challenging to tell the difference between SuperTarget and Target stores now that the latter have received fresh foods and expanded consumables offerings courtesy of the PFresh remodeling program. There is a size difference between the two formats, but thanks to PFresh conventional 125,000-sq.-ft. Target discount stores now seem pretty super. It is conceivable a similar situation could exist with CityTarget since the company has indicated some of the units will be as large as 100,000-sq.-ft. and offer the convenience of one stop shopping, which seems to be a rather liberal definition of an urban small format.