Brian Cornell has been Target’s CEO for less than a year, and he’s already eliminated a major distraction by closing the money-losing Canadian operation. This allows him to concentrate on restoring the company to a leadership position in the U.S. Part of that success will come from reinventing the chain’s $14 billion+ grocery business.
You don’t have to read between the lines to see that he’s one of those rare retailers who knows how to run stores and understands the power of marketing to drive retail performance. Signs of that were evident when he was in charge of sales and marketing at Safeway.
Let’s look at why you’ll want to pay attention to what Brian Cornell’s doing now. Under his leadership, Target is:
• Catering to shoppers who visit a collection of stores to get what they really want vs. just one or two. The appeal focuses on signature categories. This way Target will be able to ensure that it always wins at least one trip from many households — a solid platform for winning more of their business.
• Targeting Millennial interests that align with broader market trends, like health and natural products. Emphasizing these allows him to deemphasize the parts of the business which don’t appeal to those customers they’re aiming to win. This makes marketing sense, AND it allows Target to operate more effectively and generate better performance.
• Creating a dynamic organization where trying out new ideas is encouraged (and accepting “the same old way” is out of fashion). Cornell is visiting dynamic and successful organizations both outside his sector (like eyeglass retailer Warby Parker) and inside of it (like food retailers Wegmans and Trader Joe’s). He knows that the ideas he needs are out there somewhere, and that they only need to be executed with excellence inside Target.
You may say, “That’s great but it’s nothing new.” I say, don’t judge too quickly. What’s new is that all these good ideas are being put in place by an executive who’s capable of personally leading the company. Think of Brian Cornell as a motivated field general, armed with a vision. Fasten your seat belts — this could be a bumpy ride.
What do you think of Target’s new strategies?