Is Target Planning a Generational Makeover?

A few weeks ago, Target made headlines with an announcement that it's planning to revamp its grocery section. They're zeroing in on fewer categories to attract urban dwellers and young families with what appears to be a strong focus on the Millennial generation. As a generational consulting firm, there's always a lot for us to learn—both good and bad—when we see companies adjusting their marketing to focus on specific generations. And these days more and more organizations are trying to capitalize on the 20–30-something Millennials who are becoming the key target market for many goods and services.

From my Gen Junkie perspective, Target is hitting the nail on the head with this new grocery strategy. All the Millennials in our office seem to love their granola and yogurt for breakfast, with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy organic snacks munched on during the course of the day. And Target isn’t wrong about the Millennial alcohol preference either. Craft beers aren’t just consumed—they’re also a popular topic of discussion on a daily basis.

But there is a flag raised by this whole endeavor. While Target seems to be focusing on the Millennials, are they drifting away from the needs of other generations? Every time I’m in line ready to make my purchase, there’s always a lovely little Traditionalist right in front of me, trying to write a check for her Grape Nuts. Aggravating and adorable as that situation is, the store can always count on that Trad to hand over that check on a routine basis, because their generation is loyal to a fault. As long as they get that courteous “thank you” as they bundle up and head out the door, they’ll be back.

Baby Boomers strive to stay on the cutting edge and always want what’s best for their Millennial children, so all of these proposed changes being made by Target will probably sit well with them. That said, in order to appeal to the busy Boomer demographic, it's important to make their lives easier, and simplification is the key word when marketing to a sandwich generation. The last thing Boomers want is for their already complicated lives to become even more complicated, so hopefully, some of Target's basic stand-by products and brands will remain on the grocery shelves.

Target has also said they'll be catering to young families. At the moment, most of these young families are headed by Gen Xers who will be doing their research before heading out to do some shopping. As an Xer parent, I make a point of doing a little web surfing before I head out to do my shopping, checking out all the online deals and making sure the items I'm going to pick up are in-stock. We appreciate even just the simple fact of knowing what stores have and what stores don’t, so we can plan accordingly. As a skeptical Xer, an ad or special product might bring me into the store, but if something looks wrong, hints of a scam, or is oversold, I’ll head right out the door. As long as you are transparent and answer all our Xer questions, it will keep our BS-o-meter on the low end!

So the question is, will Target customize the shopping experience so much for Millennials that it turns away loyal shoppers of other generations? Or will this be a cool new trend that not only saves consumers time and money, but also makes Target the one-stop shop for all generations? We’ll wait and see!