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Target China learning fast as it gains momentum

Target China is continuing to learn about the vast mainland market as it builds brand awareness in the region in preparation for a major push.

Vincent Lau, GM China with Target Corporation, told the Omni-Channel Retailing Conference half-year seminar yesterday that China represented a steep learning curve for the US$73.8 billion US-headquartered value retail business.

“We had to forget everything we know. Being number two in the US market doesn’t resonate into anything in China.”

Lau said that while 96 per cent of Americans recognised the distinctive red circles of the Target logo, it was probably the opposite in China. “They just see a bullseye.”

Target believes its US brand promise “Expect more, pay less” is relevant to Chinese. But the stock range had to be adjusted to local market expectations. To date, Target is strong in mother and baby products and dry grocery lines, where it has localised sourcing and range.

“We keep an open mind. We test and we learn. We want to see what [Chinese consumers want] and why.”

Partnering with Alibaba has been crucial for Target in building the brand there. On Singles Day, or 11.11, Target was one of the US retailers to sign on to Alibaba’s Buy+ Virtual Reality shopping experience where shoppers online could ‘walk the aisles’ of a target store in Harlem.

Lau declined to reveal sales figures but said every product on the digital shelf had sold multiple numbers during the 24-hour online sales.

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