Target adds 'Universal Thread' to private label stable
Target next month will introduce "Universal Thread," an exclusive women’s lifestyle brand "grounded in denim" and featuring tops, dresses, accessories and shoes. Prices, ranging from $5 to $39.99, are up to 10% lower than the merchant's current women's apparel offerings, according to a corporate blog post.
The assortment will be available in all Target stores and online at Target.com in early February. It includes both fashion and everyday pieces, is offered in different fits and silhouettes and comes in sizes 00-26W, the company said.
Target developed the brand based on research conducted with nearly 1,000 women nationwide, according to Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. "What we heard from nearly all of them was that they dreaded shopping for new jeans," he said. "Whether the rise was too long or the inseam was too short or the pair of jeans they wanted didn’t come in their size — finding the perfect fit for their body type was just too challenging. That’s a problem we wanted to solve."
Target's Universal Thread launch is just the latest in a series of new exclusive labels in apparel and home goods. Last year the mass merchant announced plans to develop 12 new labels over the following 18 months, using the same research and design approach applied to developing the Pillowfort and Cat & Jack kids lines, both launched in 2016.
Those lines are performing well: By October of last year, Cat & Jack had surpassed the $2 billion mark to be one of Target’s largest brands ever, the company reported in 2017 when it unveiled a series of "adaptive apparel" products made specially for kids and toddlers living with disabilities.
Judging by these efforts to double-down on its "cheap chic" merchandise differentiation, Target seems unwilling to cede much to Amazon or anyone else when it comes to home decor, furniture and apparel. Executives last year said the company's private labels account for about $26 billion in sales.
Merchandise differentiation has been a key Target strategy since it lost a bruising price war with Walmart in the 1980s. "I think their goal is to build their in-house brands more," Maya Mikhailov, chief marketing officer and co-founder of GPShopper, told Retail Dive earlier. "Target was always known for design, earning the moniker 'Tar-zhay.' Their new streak appears to be focused on re-energizing that. It seems to be a natural extension of what their original brand promise was."
Sales from such merchandise have bolstered margins amid rising competition in consumables and grocery, although, notably, the new line will have both enhanced quality and lower prices, according to Tritton, who also promised more to come. "Guests can expect to see great ideas brought to life in their home, their wardrobe and more that provide exceptional value and innovative design," he said. "We’re improving our existing assortment or bringing newness. We’ve got plenty more amazing brands up our sleeves to make Target the preferred destination for guests again and again."
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