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Target looks to pack big holiday punch by keeping it simpler

Target Corp. is looking to take on rivals Walmart and Amazon this holiday season with a simplified strategy that emphasizes private brands, in-store fun and shopping convenience over a plethora of confusing promotions.

The retailer on Monday unveiled its plans for the holidays, which include free shipping and four seasonal gift collections, curated for women, men, kids and teens and featuring nearly 1,700 items. Most of the products are exclusive to Target and priced under $15, with stocking stuffers starting at $1.

On the convenience front, Target will offer free holiday shipping, with no minimum purchase required, from Nov. 1 through Dec. 23. The retailer is also introducing a new service, GiftNow. It allows shoppers to click the GiftNow button on select products on, and send an e-gift box, which allows the gift recipient to accept the gift, change the color or size, or choose something else.

In addition, the chain has also increased the number of stores that ship online orders to shoppers’ homes to more than 1,400 locations. In another initiative, it is introducing a mobile wallet function in the Target app that allows REDcard holders to pay for their store purchases and redeem Cartwheel offers with the scan of their phone.

Target's bevy of holiday promotions and up-and-down prices confused shoppers last year, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Consequently, the chain, which recently rolled back prices on thousands of items in a move toward a more everyday low pricing approach, is streamlining the number of holiday promotions. New this year, Target will introduce Weekend Deals that will run on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Nov. 11.

In stores, Target hopes to engage holiday shoppers with such experiences as a photo booth that puts a twist on a traditional photo with Santa throughout the month of December. Shoppers can snap a picture in the photo booth, created to look like an upside-down fireplace built with Lego bricks, then rotate the image and see themselves sliding down the chimney with Santa. On weekends in December, shoppers can sample holiday treats, and participate in interactive demonstrations featuring top toys.

Target will be emphasizing the eight new exclusive brands — spanning baby, kids, women and men’s apparel and accessories and home — it has launched this year. On Nov. 5, it will unveil the much-anticipated Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, from HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines. The line features 300 products, most for under $30, including tabletop, home décor and giftables.

On the marketing front, together, Target will debut its holiday marketing campaign, “Together’s the Joy,” on Nov. 1. In a switch from last year, the campaign will not just target families but will also go after young adults without children and empty-nesters, the StarTribune reported.

The discounter also plans to keep a big focus on Spanish-language ads, the report said. It noted that the retailer plans to wait until early December to ramp up the volume on its Christmas advertising.
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