Retail

Target launches 6 new brands - but you can't buy them in stores

Jan. 29, 2013 at 8:15 AM ET

target.com /
Target has launched six new online-only brands, including Too by Blu Dot, a home furnishings line.

If you’re looking to buy something from one of Target’s six new brands, you’ll need to skip the store and hit up their website instead. The online exclusive offers include everything from a collection of baby apparel designed for Target by Zutano to home décor lines.

“We’re excited that for the first time Target has developed new brands exclusively for Target.com," said Target spokesman Eddie Baeb. "We believe these new brands will further differentiate Target.com from other online retailers and help us create a great shopping experience for our guests.” 

The new brands are primarily home décor lines, an area that has long been a Target strength. Each of the four home furnishings lines has its own, distinct personality. Too by Blu Dot has a funky, retro '50s vibe, while MudHut features eclectic designs that reflect a global theme, with offerings like Mexican motif and Moroccan gem. Boho Boutique is a home line that is reminiscent of a lower-priced Anthropologie. The last of the home lines, Room 365, is the most contemporary of the home brands.

That Target would focus so heavily on home furnishings for its first online exclusive brands is not a surprise to some retail experts. “They’ve always been in home goods. They’ve been strong and leaders in that area. And, that strength has eroded in the last two to four years," said Mike Tesler, founding partner at consulting firm Retail Concepts and a marketing lecturer at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. "They’re looking to inject some excitement in that.”

In addition to the four new home-furnishings brands, Target.com is also offering up a women’s clothing line, Labworks, and Zutano Blue, a collection of clothing, and again, bedding and décor, for infants.

Online retail isn’t new, but Target’s mammoth push into the virtual space is new. Several retail experts agreed that the new, online venture is a low-risk way for Target to test new brands and increase profit margin. “The only thing that’s really going on here is higher margins in categories that traditionally aren’t brand-sensitive,” said Rob Frankel, branding specialist and author of “The Revenge of Brand X.”

Tesler also noted that offering products exclusively online is a good way for the company to experiment with new lines. “When you test it out online, then you have confidence that it’s going to work in the stores later,” Tesler said. At present, Target has not announced that any of the lines will be introduced in stores. “There are no current plans to have these brands in Target stores, but we’re always evaluating and considering new merchandise for our stores,” Baeb said.

Although you can only buy the products online, the Too by Blu Dot collection will be featured in five Target locations in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Westwood, Calif., through the end of January. There, guests can scan QR codes to buy the items online.

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area writer who loves to shop – both off and online.

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