At a glance

Target, the retailer, has applied a test-and-learn mindset to adapt everything from its loyalty program to how it opens small stores.

Why it matters

With the retail industry changing at rapid speed, players in this space must be able to experiment with new models and strategies. Ensuring that a brand stays relevant, and meets the functional and emotional needs of consumers, is also a vital objective.


  • Abandoning major initiatives, as when Target scrapped a planned loyalty program that was in a testing phase, takes courage but can be essential.
  • Accepting criticism when it is legitimate, and apologizing when needed, is often a challenge for big organizations – and can be extremely valuable.
  • Strategic failures can open up new opportunities, such as identifying gaps in a retailer’s product assortment.

Scores of brands talk about the theory of iteration, “test-and-learn”, and “failing forward”.