Two days before classes began, the Target store in Tuscaloosa, Ala., opened its doors after hours for University of Alabama students. The university transported students from various locations on campus to Target.
That night Target offered a unique shopping experience. Hundreds of students packed the store from 10 p.m. to midnight to receive free gift bags and product samples along with special coupons. There was even a DJ to provide entertainment for the students while they shopped. The University of Alabama was not the only school to have this type of event with Target. Colleges across the nation, such as Rutgers University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, also had similar activities this year.
So why would Target open its stores after hours for college students? I believe the company did this as the first step in building a relationship with a new audience. First-year college students are entering adulthood and beginning to flex their buying power. Many of them are looking for a one-stop shopping location where they do not have to spend a lot of money for quality items. Target is an ideal option because it offers almost anything a student could need at a discount price.
By creating an event exclusively for college students, Target shows the students how important they are to the company. This group is so important that Target is willing to go out of its way to serve them. Through this kind of customer service, Target hopes to build and maintain its relationship with the students. The students will remember the good experience they had at the event and will be more likely to return to the store.
Another way Target maintains this relationship is through its strong online presence. The company has realized that social media is one of the best ways to communicate with its college-aged audience. Target has a Facebook page with more than 500,000 fans, where customers can voice their opinions about anything related to the store.
Special promotions with colleges, along with the use of social media, give Target shoppers a personal relationship with the company. These strategies show that Target values both the patronage and the opinions of its consumers. By doing this, Target is developing life-long customers.