NEW YORK: Target, the retail group, has boosted sales of its swimwear and related products through tapping the power of social media data.

Speaking at VentureBeat's Marketing.FWD Summit 2016, Kristi Argyilan, Target's SVP/Media, Guest Engagement & Measurement, discussed how leveraging information from this channel has delivered tangible results for the company.

"Our [swim] business has grown 15% over the last couple of years, and we're now the number-one share as a result of these shifts," she said. (For more, including further strategic insights, read Warc's exclusive report: Social data helps Target re-target swimwear.)

"So, if you're looking for business results, that's a really great case of where we listened to what the guest was saying she's ready for. And we adapted not only our marketing, but our merchandising strategy as a result."

One example of this idea in action involved the insight that many shoppers are fed up with marketing campaigns that solely feature models who embodied stereotypical perceptions of beauty.

"What we're hearing from our guests and what we're seeing in the data is that they are tired of the 'perfect body', and that being the focus when it comes time to really thinking about, 'What swimsuit am I going to buy?'" Argyilan said.

"This vibe out in the world that you have to have a perfect body in order to put on a swimsuit – people are tired of it," she explained.

"It's really easy for us to then shift to 'swimwear for every body'. [That] became a key insight for how we constructed all of the communications for our swim program."

A deeper understanding of consumer habits also helped Target clarify precisely when different shoppers were seeking to acquire swimwear and associated goods.

"Now we're looking at a merchandise strategy based on the data that we're getting as well. We know that a younger guest is shopping earlier in the year, because they're going away for spring break," Argyilan said.

"And so timing the flow of merchandise and communications – according to who is buying when – has been a huge step for us."

Data sourced from Warc