Target Corporation’s Strategic (SWOT) Analysis


  1. Strong and recognizable brand positioning – Target is one of the few universally recognizable brands in mass retail, both in name and its icon. It is associated with the clean, large stores where trendy, high-quality, and sometimes upscale merchandise can be found at accessible and discounted prices. Target is popular with the middle class of consumers; the brand positioning expresses value and satisfies need while being attainable.
  2. Wide range of available brands and merchandise – As a large retailer, Target has virtually any reasonable product that a consumer may need in key categories ranging from food to clothing to lifestyle and sport to household goods, among many others. Target partners with and purchases a variety of products and brands but the company has also launched over 30 of its own brands in multiple categories that are seeing millions and billions of dollars in sales. Consumers have access to these diverse inventories both in-store and online (Repko, 2021).
  3. Pricing accessibility – Despite Target attracting the medium to high income group of customers, its pricing is very accessible, especially on many high quality or recognized brand name items. Target is able to achieve pricing accessibility through partnerships as well as creating products through its own sub-brands.
  4. Effective logistics and distribution system – Target has one of the leading supply chain networks in retail, having over 40 distribution centers worldwide and continuously developing solutions for effective product delivery and inventory management. Target is utilizing techniques such as ‘mixed bag’ shipments to stores with a variety of merchandise as well as sortation centers on fulfilling orders in the current digital economy, all aimed at optimizing fulfillment of customer orders and demands (Leonard, 2021).
  5. One of the best customer services and in-store experiences – the company has one of the best reputations for customer service and experiences, concerning any point of interaction between customers and the company. It is uncommon for discount stores to invest so heavily into customer service and experience, but Target sets a high bar. The in-store experience is particularly beneficial as consumers are offered help by friendly and knowledgeable associates, the layout of products is usually highly intuitive, and the shopping process is generally very efficient (Leinbach-Reyhle, 2014).


  • No unique offerings or services in-store – Target has had partnerships with Apple, Starbucks of having those boutiques in the company stores but they have not been successful. Competitors offer aspects such as pharmacy, financial services, or gas under their brand names with discounts for loyal customers and offering stable revenue streams something that Target has not been able to achieve.
  • Relatively weak loyalty program – While Target offers the special Red Card program where consumers get up to 5% discounts with Target branded credit cards, this has not reached extensive outreach nor popular with consumers that do not need another credit card.
  • Lagging online e-commerce presence – Target has been ramping up its digital presence as will be discussed in opportunities, but it is struggling far behind Amazon or even Walmart. As of 2020, it only has a 1.2% market share in e-commerce, being 8th largest in the U.S (Unglesbee, 2020).
  • No international presence – Target only operates in the U.S., while its major competitors operate in other North American countries and sometimes Europe, which significantly limits the market presence for the company.


  • Digital presence and e-commerce – while Target is still struggling in the e-commerce market, it has taken advantage of the pivot during the pandemic to growing its online presence by as much as 24% annually. While its market share is low currently, it can easily enter the top 5 percent of e-commerce retailers if it follows a similar trajectory and continues developing online services and customer experience (Unglesbee, 2020).
  • Expanding private label brands – Over 30 private label brands that Target owns have been extremely successful as they are targeted towards company’s key consumers and filling in the gaps for external brands which Target sources (Repko, 2020). The corporation should continue developing products and potentially additional brands under this model as it is ultimately benefits Target that keeps the revenue rather than having to pay retail costs for inventory.
  • Small-format stores in urban areas and campuses – Target has been opening such stores (more than 100 nationwide), entering the ‘neighborhood store’ market. Essentially being scaled down versions of its big box stores it is filling a niche and consumer demand for such stores in many geographical areas (Target Corporation, 2019).


  • Highly competitive market/vulnerable to economic downfall – retail remains a highly competitive industry with generally very low margins. Target faces competition from other large retailers, popularity of ‘local’ small retailers, as well as online e-commerce platforms like Amazon. Furthermore, retail is volatile industry that is also dependent on economics, if customer spending increases or declines, retail will be one of the first industries to feel the impact.
  • Inability to differentiate – At its core, retail is very similar, all stores offer a combination of products in various categories. However, each must differentiate either through pricing, product offering, brand recognition, or services. Target has the differentiator of brand name association/product offering of high-quality products at affordable prices, that other retailers have not really mimicked.
  • Changing customer shopping habits – either in-person trends or shifts to online shopping, customer preferences, patterns, and habits are continuously changing. The company needs to keep up with what the customer demands in terms of shopping experience and products. Otherwise, it will quickly lose market share to competitors and become irrelevant as many companies did when the digital shopping revolution occurred.

Short Version Graph

  • Strong and recognizable brand positioning
  • Wide range of merchandise and brand availability
  • Pricing accessibility
  • Effective logistics and distribution system
  • One of the best customer service and in-store experiences
  • No unique services in-store
  • Poor loyalty/reward program
  • Struggling online presence
  • No international market penetration
  • Digital presence and e-commerce
  • Expansion of private label brands
  • Small-format stores in urban areas and campuses
  • Competitive market/economic volatility
  • Inability to differentiate
  • Consumer changing preferences and shopping habits


Leinbach-Reyhle, N. (2014). How Target stands out among its discount store competitors. Forbes. Web.

Leonard, M. (2021). Target expands sortation center model to optimize store fulfillment. SupplyChainDive. Web.

Repko, M. (2021). Target’s activewear brand hits $1 billion in sales, as retailer gains ground in apparel. CNBC. Web.

Target Corporation. (2019). These small but mighty Target stores are a college student’s dream. Web.

Unglesbee, B. (2020). Target poised to be a top e-commerce player in 2020. Retail Dive. Web.

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BusinessEssay. "Target Corporation's Strategic (SWOT) Analysis." December 17, 2022.