Saturday, January 7, 2012
The book of the week was On Target by Laura Rowley. It was a very well written book and extremely informative. I may be a tid-bit biased in this because of the time I lived in Minnesota. And I don't think I have ever met a person that lived in Minnesota the disliked Target. I heard Minneapolis described as the "stickiest city" one time because people move there and stay there forever because it's such a great place. The city and the people and the culture are just magical. And whether it was the companies that created the culture for the city or the other way around, the companies based in Minneapolis are pretty incredible. And Target is absolutely among them.
Target was the creation of a brilliant family. The Dayton's. The Dayton's are still a household name. The Dayton's created incredible empire with such an amazing culture. My favorite part is that the Dayton's formalized their corporate giving to be 5% pre tax in 1946. And then in the 1970s the 5 Dayton brother's went out to other companies in Minnesota encouraged them to give between 2 and 5% of their profit's pretax. There is such a culture of giving as a foundation of Target and when it starts at the top it trickles down and infects everyone in the company.
So onto Target... how do they hold a niche in the market? They are customer centered. From the Dayton's basing their company around the principle of honesty. Not only does the honesty apply to being truthful to the customer about the products they carried but also having an underlying culture in everything they do. So honest prices by not over charging the customer, providing the customer with genuine quality in the products they sell, and providing honest feedback to all their employees and, also, taking honest feedback from their employees.
Customer's love Target. I remember when I was in college, I was shocked that the girls I hung out with loved to shop at Target for clothes. Back then I had little distinction between Target and Walmart. And you never, never, never hear cute college girls talking about shopping at Walmart for clothes. Since then I have been intrigued with the differences of these two Juggernaut retailers. And differences, there are plenty. This book, On Target, was written in 2003 and both Target and Walmart have undergone changes since. But it helps you realize when reading this book that Walmart took a lot of pages out of Target's book over the past several years. The book talks about how Target has wider aisles, it's brightly lit, and in every way has a more artistic approach to their work. Well, over the course of the past several years, Walmart has gotten larger aisles, and they have added more lighting... but they couldn't match Target's creativity. I think a hundred years could go by and Target will still be at least 5 years ahead of Walmart artistically. Because you can't copy creativity. I also have never seen a more clean Walmart than Target. And I think that comes down to passion... the passion of the employees.
I think another thing that puts Target miles ahead Walmart is they hire people that truly care about the company, whereas, Walmart hires everyone. I have seldom seen a Target employee that looked like they hated their job. They care about their displays and their signage and the presentation of their displays. And most importantly they care about their customers. Target stands by their creed - fast, fun, and friendly.
I believe, so long as Target keeps their edge (style), they will be around for years and years to come. I will choose Target over Walmart any day because with Target I know I am getting quality for a great price.
If anyone has any questions about this book let me know. I highly recommend it. The author was right on the Bull's-eye with this one, and if you are interested in how Target got to be how she is then you should check it out.