Target is using this beloved brand to solve a major customer pain point

With the back-to-school season around the corner and many students already returning to class, parents are more sleep deprived and time-crunched than ever. 

With schools open and in-person once again, kids are coming home with lengthy lists of classroom supplies for the year ahead. One of the biggest beneficiaries will inevitably be Target  (TGT) – Get Free Report, which the big box retailer looks ahead to as a landmark event each year. 

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Before the pandemic, Target’s foot traffic during the busy back-to-school shopping season hit a “torrid” pace in August 2019. 

Here’s what pre-pandemic foot traffic spikes looked like in terms of baseline percentage increases each year: 

2017: weekly visits peaked at 10.1%2018: weekly visits peaked at 13.8%2019: weekly visits peaked at 27.5% 

This is a more than healthy up-and-to-the-right trend that any investor would be happy to see. Target’s financials were strong and its future looked rosy. And then, of course, the pandemic hit and all but shut down its core consumer base. 

It’s taken Target over three years to recover — and learn from the mistakes covid wrought. 

Schools shifted to online classes, shopping habits shifted to online order, and dining habits shifted to online takeout. We live with a lot of these indelible changes to our behaviors to this day. Amazon’s  (AMZN) – Get Free Report Prime Day has had resounding success over the past couple of years because most people would simply rather place an order at home than run out to a retailer to grab something (and while they’re at it, they generally add more to their virtual carts, too).

Target has been forced to learn from these harsh lessons. It now has its own version of Prime Day, called Circle Week, and it now permanently offers order ahead and in-store pickup for customers on the go. For those who would rather not leave their cars, Target will even offer a drive up feature, where an employee will load your car for you in a designated and conveniently located prime-parking spot — further suggesting just how seriously Target takes this part of its business.


But virtual shopping takes some of the fun out of the journey. Customers aren’t wandering aisles and picking up less-than-crucial items for purchase. A $10 nail polish, a $7 coffee mug, a $19 sun dress, and a $14 yoga mat really add up — and taking those extraneous purchases away from a pick up customer can hurt a bottom line (and remove the joy of shopping).

Which is why Target’s decision to include Starbucks to its drive up program is so genius. 

Target finally gets the buzz

For many shoppers, the act of picking up a Frappuccino and aimlessly wandering the aisles for an hour or two is nothing short of an act of self care. Some folks go on spiritual retreats to Banff or Amangiri. Others go to the strip mall and down a 16-ounce Blonde Vanilla Latte with extra oat milk and caramel swirl to achieve the same sense of contentment and centeredness. 

Target says the plan to bring Starbucks to its ever-popular drive-up service has been on the docket since 2021 after under-caffeinated fans began demanding it. Surely you can social distance and achieve a state of caffeinated bliss at the same time, right? 

“Our guests have long told us drive-up is a game-changer, adding convenience to their daily life, especially when they’re short on time,” Target Chief Stores Officer Mark Schindele said. “We’ve continued listening to our guests, who’ve told us overwhelmingly that drive-up with Starbucks would bring even more ease and joy to every Target run.”

The service will be available in 24 states, including California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas and will begin rolling out in October (just in time for pumpkin spice season, which also happens to coincide with the beginning of the holiday shopping season).

Customers can order Starbucks on the Target app. Once they load their cart for pickup, they’ll be prompted with a question about adding any food or drink from the cafe to their order. Then, the drink will be delivered along with anything else you ordered from the store. 

For any of us who have waited in line for what seems like an eternity in a Starbucks line, this seems like a pretty good idea. Just don’t forget to add that $10 nail polish to your cart too. You know, for the good of the economy. 

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