Prices, business model, location: Is the new Provo-BYU Target a good thing?

Ally Halverson
Cosmo the Cougar and Bullseye, Target’s mascot, pose at the Provo Target under balloons representing the store number during a ribbon cutting event on Nov. 7. (Ally Halverson)

Target opened its first small-format store in Utah on Nov. 7. The store is close to campus, located in the strip mall off of State Street and Bulldog Boulevard between Cubby’s and Maceys.

BYU strategy professor James Oldroyd and Podium sales director Brett Steele said they are unsure how the store will fit into the community, but believe Target’s merchandising will bring in college students, which may help other businesses in the area.

Target is rolling out new small-format stores near college campuses and suburban neighborhoods. The small stores allow Target to open in areas where a full-size Target might not fit, according to a Target press release.

The Provo-BYU store has products tailored to BYU students and staff and local residents. Their selection includes apparel and accessories, toys and sporting goods, an assortment of apartment decor, baby and kid products, health and beauty products, portable technology products and more, according to the Target press release.

The store also offers a selection of food and beverages, including fresh produce, grab-and-go items and snacks, the press release included.

Ally Halverson
The Provo-BYU store offers quick-pick selections for students, Provo residents and staff. (Ally Halverson)

The small-format store also offers in-store pick up for those who order products on Target’s app.

Provo-BYU Target team leader Dustin Wardle cut the ribbon to open the new store on Nov. 7.

“Our purpose is to bring joy to all the families. That’s what this store is really going to be all about — bringing joy to all the residents of Provo,” Wardle said.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi also expressed her enthusiasm for the new store.

“I am shaking. Who shakes over a store? I’m a mom. That’s who shakes over a store,” Kaufusi said. “We have been waiting and praying for a Target to come here, and as a mother of five and a citizen and as your mayor, I am beyond excited.”

Steele, sales director at Lehi tech-company Podium, said he thinks Target’s location is close enough to campus to attract students.

Steele said the small-store feature is convenient for students. The store also offers online order pickup, which Steele said he believes is a good way for Target to adapt to online shopping.

“By offering in-store purchases and in-store pick up, they are going to capitalize on other items students can get at Target while they are picking up their online order,” Steele said. “It’s all about combining students’ needs into one trip.”

Ally Halverson
Provo-BYU Target offers in-store pickup for online orders. Some orders can be picked up within an hour while some take days to ship. (Ally Halverson)

Oldroyd commended Target’s small-store strategy but said very few businesses have done well in the current location of the Provo-BYU store.

“I’m really curious if Target can come in and pull that off. The mini store idea works well. I definitely think Target’s a good fit,” Oldroyd said. “The question is, is it close enough to campus? It’s in a great location, but can they get people to shop there?”

Oldroyd conducted a case study in 2004 comparing Target’s merchandising and business model with other retailers.

According to Oldroyd, Target’s business model focuses on getting consumers into its store for weekly grocery shopping and displays attractive apparel and decor that customers end up buying — despite going into the store with different intentions. Oldroyd said he applauds Target’s efforts.

“Their merchandising is fantastic. They do a lot to try to preserve the upscale, happier feel. They don’t have end caps, so it makes it feel more open. The lighting is different. Target has attractive people smiling on their signs whereas Walmart has a creepy smiling face telling you their prices are low,” Oldroyd said.

According to Oldroyd, Target’s grocery and home product prices are similar to Walmart’s, but the price of apparel is higher. Target and Walmart’s prices for grocery items and household items were almost identical with a few cent variation.

Macey’s prices for grocery and household items were consistently about 30 cents or more expensive than Target or Walmart. CVS does not have a substantial amount of grocery items to be considered, but household items consistently priced at least one or two dollars more than Target, Macey’s and Walmart.

Price comparison examples for food items:

1 gallon of 2 percent milk —

  • $1.88 at Target
  • $1.89 at Walmart
  • $2.69 at Maceys

Breyers 1.5 quart Vanilla Ice Cream —

  • $3.99 at Target
  • $3.98 at Walmart
  • $4.39 at Maceys

Grandma Sycamore bread —

  • $2.89 at Target
  • $2.79 at Walmart
  • $3.29 at Maceys

Price comparison examples for household items:

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes and Face Wipes —

  • $4.99 at Target
  • $4.47 at Walmart
  • $5.69 at Maceys
  • $5.99 at CVS

Clorox disinfecting wipes —

  • $4.99 at Target
  • $4.33 at Walmart
  • $6.39 at Maceys
  • $6.49 at CVS

Charmin toilet paper —

  • $10.19 at Target
  • $9.47 at Walmart
  • $11.79 at Maceys
  • $13.99 at CVS
Ally Halverson
Target, similar to Walmart, offers both brand-name and generic brand household items. (Ally Halverson)

Oldroyd said he believes Target’s presence will help boost sales at the surrounding stores and restaurants.

He said when more traffic is driven to an area, sales go up everywhere because people see things and end up buying them.

“Before, that area was dead space, but now if people swing by Target to get something, they will be more likely to grab a bite at one of the surrounding restaurants like Chick-fil-A, Sonic or Cubby’s, or they will be more likely to go into the hardware store or Maceys grocery store next to Target because they will remember they needed something in there,” Oldroyd said.

According to Oldroyd, consumers use associative thinking, which encourages more spending. Associative thinking is “the process of linking one thought or idea to another,” according to Illumine Training.

“People will be driving to Target and will see the hardware store. It prompts them to remember things they needed at that store. They were already making the trip, so they might as well go into the hardware store because they were thinking about purchasing something anyways,” Oldroyd said.

According to Oldroyd, Target may pull customers from TJ Maxx or J.C. Penney.

Target may compete a bit with Maceys and Walmart for grocery customers, but Target will get more customers in apparel purchases, he said.

Oldroyd thinks Target chose a good spot for their new location since the closest Target to BYU campus is in Orem. One concern he voiced for the store’s placement is dependent on the strip mall off of University Parkway by Café Rio.

“They are doing some retail there and I don’t know what’s going to go in, so this could be a dumb move for Target if they should have gone there, but we don’t know what’s going to be there yet,” Oldroyd said.

Overall, Oldroyd said he thinks the new Provo-BYU target is a good addition to the strip mall. He said he believes it will help the surrounding stores and restaurants boost sales while providing jobs for students and Provo residents.

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