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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how Target, looking to differentiate itself from discounters with brands that others don’t have at prices low enough to make a difference, “s planning to launch a new brand for consumer staples called Smartly with more than 70 products, including razors, toilet paper and dish soap, mostly priced under $2. The products will be offered at stores and online in mid-October.”

Mark Tritton, Target’s chief merchandising officer, says that “it’s about showing people that I don’t have to go to Aldi or I don’t have to go to Dollar General to find what I’m looking for.”

The story notes that this continues a strategic direction for Target: “In the past two years, Target has created 20 brands, mostly in the apparel and home categories. Over the summer, it launched its first electronics brand called Heyday with items like headphones and speakers, all priced under $60.

“Target said Smartly is priced, on average, about 70% less than traditional brands, such as Procter & Gamble Co. labels like Tide, Gillette and Charmin. The new line will be Target’s second generic brand for toiletries, undercutting prices on its Up & Up brand by about 50%.”

However, Tritton is quick to tell the Journal that he’s not looking to go to war with the national brands that still take up so much of Target’s shelf space: “Am I saying we’re looking to replace a key brand like Tide with Smartly? Absolutely not.”
KC's View:
Well, maybe not absolutely not. Maybe Tritton just wants to get the national brands’ attention, to let them know that they need to keep their prices low so that Target can compete effectively with the likes of Aldi and Dollar General. Maybe he just wants them to know that Target has options, especially since the much-desired millennial generation is both cost-conscious and willing to try new products that they perceive as relevant to their needs.

And maybe this is just another example of Target being willing to try new things, whether it is an extension of its own-label program or the embrace of disruptive entrepreneurial brands like Harry’s and Quip that have successfully challenged national brands. Maybe Target wants to be seen as being in that league, because that’s where it thinks the action is.