COLORADO SPRINGS: Target, the retailer, believes a "human-first" approach to marketing can help ensure it does not get distracted by tools and technologies that are generating buzz but are largely irrelevant to its audience.

William White, the Minneapolis-based company's VP/Marketing, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Digital & Social Media Conference.

"As a marketing organisation, we like to think human-first, not platform-first," he said. (For more, including further details of this strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Target's marketing puts people before platforms.)

"I think a lot of brands, with all of the shiny new platforms that are out there, will just chase that, and say, 'You know what: Snapchat is the big thing, so we've got to do something first.'

"But if that's not right for the idea that you are trying to communicate, or that's not right for the guest that you're trying to communicate with, it's very inauthentic. And so it's very important that you think human-first, not platform-first."

One example of this theory in action involved a partnership with singer Gwen Stefani. During the broadcast of the 2016 GRAMMY Awards, the brand aired a live, four-minute performance by the popstar instead of offering up traditional TV spots.

Similarly, in promoting its slate of "Star Wars" merchandise in the holiday season before the release of "The Force Awakens", Target asked consumers to share their memories of the movies online, as well as using the in-store arena to spread excitement.

"Regardless of what's in and what's out … don't chase the platforms," White advised. "I think that it's really important for brands to stay true to who they are and what they stand for. A brand is a promise, and a great brand is a promise kept."

Consumer insights play a key role in guiding the retailer's strategy in this area, as they help it identify platforms which are truly relevant to its current and prospective customers.

"We spend a lot of time with our consumers understanding their needs – understanding what's important to them, understanding what their values are, and putting ourselves in their shoes," said White. "We believe that by putting our guests first, the business results will follow."

Data sourced from Warc