TARGET UPDATES LOOK OF MARKET PANTRY

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Not one to leave a decorative stone unturned, Target is sprucing up the look of Market Pantry, its entry-level food brand, to give it a more sophisticated look.A red, white and black label -- more in line with Target Stores' overall color scheme -- will replace the basic, lime-green packaging, a regional manager divulged during a tour of a new SuperTarget here."We want it to be spiffier,"

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Not one to leave a decorative stone unturned, Target is sprucing up the look of Market Pantry, its entry-level food brand, to give it a more sophisticated look.

A red, white and black label -- more in line with Target Stores' overall color scheme -- will replace the basic, lime-green packaging, a regional manager divulged during a tour of a new SuperTarget here.

"We want it to be spiffier," he said, holding up gallons of Market Pantry and Archer Farms ice cream to illustrate the significant gap in appeal between the store's entry-level and upscale private brands.

Some industry observers have said Market Pantry's current fluorescent green packaging and preschool-ish, oversized lettering screams "commodity," a sentiment that doesn't align with Target's cheap-yet-chic image. Archer Farms, the retailer's premium store label, uses detailed product "beauty shots" for its packaging.

During the hour-long store tour, given in conjunction with the International Mass Retail Association's annual convention, Target managers dispensed tidbits of information about their closely watched food business.

Managers touted grocery as one of the most dynamic areas of the store and a key factor in the corporate initiative to increase store traffic by two visits per customer this year.

As it already does with its general merchandise, Target plans to use private-label food to differentiate itself and build margin.

It's adding items to both private-label ranges, everything from yogurt and organic meat for its Archer Farms label to popsicles for Market Pantry. The store takes pains to ensure each brand serves a different audience. Market Pantry does a good business with college kids and recent grads, said the manager. Archer Farms, in contrast, appears to angle for Target's sweet spot -- affluent, suburban young mothers.

"We don't place Archer Farms right next to Market Pantry, ever," said the regional manager. "We always put a national brand in between because we don't want the customer making an exact price comparison."

Target is also trying to address regional tastes and preferences. This 196,000-square-foot SuperTarget, for example, carries Carvel ice-cream cakes, John Boy & Billy's BBQ sauce and a 24-foot display of Hispanic foods, stocked by a local independent distributor -- all examples of ways the store is tailored to the region.