Target Expands One-On-One Beauty Merchandising Test

Target (NYSE:TGT) is expanding a test of personalized assistance with beauty products to 200 stores nationwide by the end of 2013, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Thursday (May 30).

The "Target Beauty Concierge" program, which was piloted in Chicago, will expand to 36 Minneapolis-St. Paul Target stores in July, and to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., by the end of the year. Specially trained and uniformed employees will help customers figure out which of the chain's 9,500 beauty products best fit their needs. The specialists will be hired and trained through an outside vendor that Target declined to identify for the newspaper.

It's not a new idea at higher-end stores like Macy's (NYSE:M) and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN). But that level of personalized service is new for discount chains such as Target. The retailer hasn't said whether it plans to expand the program to all 1,700 of its stores.

Christina Hennington, Target's vice president and merchandise manager for beauty, said the chain is still tweaking the program, and hasn't yet decided whether to dedicate special space in the store to the concierge, or how to integrate the service with its loyalty program and multichannel efforts.

Beauty products seem like a natural target for this kind of intensive one-on-one retailing because they're highly profitable, have a broad audience and can benefit from specialized knowledge on the part of associates—especially with thousands of products available, most of which any particular customer isn't likely to know about.

But Target is also looking ways to spread the personal-specialist idea to other departments. The chain recently tested staffing its electronics sections with employees from Best Buy's (NYSE:BBY) Geek Squad.

For more:

- See this Star Tribune story

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