UPDATE: July 18, 2019: Target's Clean icon is expanding to the beauty department, the retailer announced in a blog post on Monday, completing the plans it laid out in March for the label. The label is already found in household essentials and baby, and will apply to nearly 4,000 products in the beauty department, the mass merchant said, including from brands like Harry's, Smartly, Versed and Yuni, among others.
Target on Wednesday announced the latest label in a series of wellness icons dedicated to driving transparency regarding the chemicals in products. The addition," Target Clean," is a "clean icon" that indicates products have been formulated without parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and other chemicals, according to a Target blog post.
Shoppers will begin seeing the icon on product pages featured in household essentials, beauty and personal care, and baby categories this month and in stores in April.
The measure aims to save guests time in their search for better-for-you products, Christina Hennington, Target's senior vice president and general merchandise manager of essentials, beauty, hardlines and services, said in a statement.
This is the latest step in Target's plan, first announced in 2017, to offer products without unwanted chemicals and with greater transparency regarding product formulations.
By 2020, the overall plan is to formulate products without the chemicals on its priority list, and to label products clearly to indicate those free of ingredients like phthalates, parabens and formaldehyde. "Target Clean" is now one of more than a dozen Target labels indicating whether products are, for instance, organic, non GMO, gluten-free, bio-based or cruelty free, among other things. For the long-term, Target has also committed to investing up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.
With this new label, Target is making a bet that it has enough trust built with customers that the icon will become shorthand for better-for-you and better-for-your-wallet products. Hennington noted that Target shoppers are increasingly interested in those types of products.
Other companies are capitalizing on the trend too. In 2017, upstart Brandless shook the industry with a business model that offered all of its products — mostly consumer goods and cleaning supplies — free of toxic chemicals and most for $3 each. The company recently began offering some products for $9 as it moves into baby and pet categories, but its core mission is about making it easier for consumers to quickly find affordable and clean household essentials.
Sitting at a higher price point, digitally native brand Grove Collaborative also makes a similar promise to shoppers by making it easier to buy natural products. For Grove, the priority is building a strong relationship with customers through phone consultations with service associates and personalized shipments. As a mass merchandiser, though, Target is making more of a convenience and value proposition to its customers. That ties in to the company's overall mission to become "America's easiest place to shop."