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Can chic co-exist with the club experience? Target testing it

Retailer taking seven weeks to determine whether the warehouse approach has staying power in its stores, trying packaging sizes unfamiliar within its stores.

Packaging formats are getting more and more voluminous and complex, and Target is dipping its toe in the water as 2010 begins by testing the viability of warehouse club-type packaging. The mass merchandiser will sell some paper products, toothpaste, and granola bars in bulking packaging during a seven-week test period at all of its 1,740 stores.

As reports in explaining Target’s move, the objective is to cash in on bulk sales in household items to boost sales.

Packaging could figure prominently in the success of Target’s bulk-packaging experiment. If the retailer can offer unit-of-sale packing configurations that appeal to consumers in these initial household categories, the club store-like approach could be viable for other products.

Target also could evolve its product offerings into a flexible mix of both individual and bulk packs, offering consumers the added benefit of membership-free shopping. This “value-driven club experience” certainly could open up new marketing possibilities for Target’s own brands, such as the recently relaunched Up & Up product family.

National brand owners will be watching developments as Target tests the club concept—without the membership fee that club stores typically charge.

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