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How Target Keeps Guest Experience Top of Mind

Exec Cara Sylvester shares how retailer creates moments of joy for its customers
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Target Cara Sylvester
Target's Cara Sylvester hopes to create a special feeling or moment of joy that stays with customers long after their visit is over.

Target is getting into the holiday spirit this year in a major way. Chief Guest Experience Officer Cara Sylvester shared in a company blog post how the retailer creates unique, meaningful and memorable moments of joy for its guests regardless of when or how they shop, especially around the holidays.

Sylvester recounts Christmas shopping at a local department store with her mother when she was a child, and remembers everything about the experience, from riding the escalator and hearing music playing, to seeing large decorations and a larger-than-life Christmas tree.

“Those memories and feelings are what turn an ordinary shopping trip into an experience that sticks with you for a lifetime,” Sylvester explained. “And that stickiness is what drives love and loyalty for a brand or a retailer, which is why we care so much about the experience we create for you, our guests.” 

For Target, creating that stickiness starts with blending product assortment, stores, digital and marketing in a way no one else can. Sylvester says the retailer’s ability to bring its customers trendy, often affordable, products they’ll only find at Target while inviting discovery and inspiration both in-store and online, is a key differentiator. Experiences such as being able to order a Starbucks coffee while grabbing a Drive Up order also help sweeten the deal.

“We sweat the details, knowing it’s the small things that make a huge difference,” Sylvester said. “And we also think big, always reimagining and reinventing to give you an experience that makes you say, ‘I love shopping at Target.’”

Target also focuses on immersive exploration, including gifting stations and seasonal displays, as well as in-store events. For the first time, the retailer created a signature pattern for the holiday season that is reflected throughout the experience and on holiday products. In-store music and sounds also reflect this year’s transportation-themed celebration, but Sylvester stresses that the retailer has put a lot of thought and care into extending that experience to online customers.

“A quick tap of the Target app reflects the same holiday colors, patterns and sense of discovery you get browsing the aisles, with interactive features like our 360-degree toy room and digital gifting station,” she explained. “When you open our app or click to our site, you get an experience that is personalized, dynamic and filled with customized inspiration. It’s difficult to create that same store magic online, and this year, I think we’ve done just that.”

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. PG also included the company on its Retailers of the Century list. 

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