Target has a key edge over Walmart, Amazon ahead of a huge event

Target has worked hard to offer differentiated merchandise from its key rivals. That has generally been something it has accomplished via its owned-and-operated private-label brands.

Those product lines have given the retailer more control over its products than Walmart and Amazon have. Because Target (TGT) – Get Free Report owns the lines, it controls them and can feature them in its stores.

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In some cases, the retailer has partnered with celebrities like its Magnolia line with Chip and Joanna Gaines, but most of its efforts are simply the retailer creating brands that feel like bigger-name competitors that it can sell at lower prices. The chain’s All In Motion yoga/athletic wear brand, for example, may not have the same cache as Lululemon, but it offers comparable quality at a much lower price,

In addition to its owned-and-operated brands, Target has also partnered with some well-known celebrities like Kendra Scott, Tabitha Brown, and the most famous person in the world, Taylor Swift.

With the Super Bowl approaching and Swift being in the news, not just as a singer, but also because of her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, Target has a unique opportunity. The retailer, which has offered special editions of many of Swift’s albums and has a long-standing special relationship with the singer, also has a partnership with the NFL.

That could allow it to create unique sales bundles that Walmart and Amazon can’t offer, Victor Lee, president of Advantage Unified Commerce (AUC), a unit of Advantage Solutions, explained how in an email interview with TheStreet.

Travis Kelce has new fans thanks to his relationship with Taylor Swift.

Image source: USAToday Sports

Target has a sales opportunity

TheStreet: How can Target capitalize off of the interest Taylor Swift has generated for the NFL?

Lee: This will be hard for a few reasons. First, the ability to immediately affect in-store merchandising less than two weeks from the game. Most brands who sponsor the Super Bowl were already placed and live early in the playoffs, weeks ago. The logistics of physical retail would be too challenging. However, online offers an easier path to activate. 

Second, team affiliation. Swifties are borderless. Fans of NFL teams are not. The assumption is that the new fans introduced to the NFL through Taylor Swift will also have the same fandom for the Chiefs, this makes it hard for retailers located in 49er dominate fan bases, which most of the US will be based on the size of the team’s base.

Given the above, I would suggest highly targeted bundles that are online exclusives focused on KC and Swift fans, which is easy when done online. A Super Bowl party package, his and hers game day outfits (Chiefs shirts or jerseys and Taylor Swift Eras tour merch). Earlier in the year, Swift had a viral moment with her “Seemingly Ranch” sauce which Heinz immediately activated. Since snacking and parties for the Super Bowl are massive CPG moments, a “perfect match Super Bowl” party planning program highlighting the Seemingly Ranch sauce and combining all other party staples could have some interest.

TheStreet: Are the NFL and its retail partners doing enough to serve this new, unexpected audience?

Lee: I think this is a moment in time that was a perfect storm and only relevant because the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl, which was never a guarantee. That makes it hard to spend a lot of time and resources on an “it might happen”, which severely limits the ability to plan properly. 

I do believe that this buzz is good for the game because it has a storyline, it opens up the sport to more audiences, hopefully keeping their interest in the sport long-term. To activate it, would be very difficult. Swift isn’t an official ambassador of the NFL nor the Chiefs, she has a personal interest in the game due to Kelce. As Kelce and the Chiefs go, she will as well as a headline for this game. 

I also firmly believe that not everything is “activatable”. More people are watching the NFL, specifically the Chiefs due to Swift. But are more watching the Patriots? The Seahawks? Do those broadcasts speak about the relationship? I’m not necessarily in the camp that this is something marketers or retailers can strike oil on. It’s a great story, provides incredible social media and changes the narrative of the game from just being a game.

Taylor Swift is good for the NFL

TheStreet: Has anything like this ever happened before?

Lee: The idea that people are infatuated with a new relationship that is unexpected which creates a groundswell of interest and news, yes. Harry and Meghan. Brad and everyone he’s been involved with. Jennifer Aniston and everyone she’s been involved with. Rumors of Brad and Jennifer getting back together. J Lo and Affleck. Brady and Gisele. The difference here is that Kelce is arguably the best in his position on a team with a lot of recent success. Taylor Swift has broken all records with her recent Eras tour and Times’ Person of the Year. That’s the combination of two stars at the apex of their brightness.

TheStreet: Will this create new NFL and new Taylor Swift fans?

Lee: It already has created new NFL fans, specifically Kansas City Chiefs fans. Time will tell if this leads to true NFL and the sport of football fans. 

The NFL has done an incredible job in recent years to open up their sport to other communities, they have put a conscience effort to operate outside of the helmet and field and in my opinion lead all the major sports in embracing new audiences. The NFL just gave Kristin Juszczyk a licensing agreement driven by the custom NFL apparel she was wearing to games to support her husband Kyle, who plays for the 49ers. S

he also provided the iconic jacket Taylor wore a few weeks ago which got a ton of press and coverage. That’s the Taylor Swift Effect. And that’s what makes this story so great. It created a business opportunity for someone.

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