Target Circle, the new loyalty program being rolled out by retailer Target, is the result of a test-and-learn mindset that has seen the company adapt this proposition in nuanced ways.

Rick Gomez, evp/chief marketing and digital officer of Target, discussed what will become of “one of the biggest loyalty programs in the US” at the 2019 Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference.

“We will have millions of members in all 50 states,” he predicted. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Target shows evidence of test-and-fail learning experiences.)

Target Circle launched across the US on October 6th,, having initially been tested in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, before then being extended to Charlotte, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Phoenix.

“We launched a new beta program in Dallas that was designed to engage all of our guests – from our Target enthusiasts to the least-invested shoppers – with a series of personalised benefits, including a 1% discount every time you shop at Target,” said Gomez.

“Circle also offered customers a chance to have a voice on which charities [their] local store would support. And, looking ahead, members in the loyalty program would receive personalised offers based on how they had shopped.”

From its six test markets, Gomez explained, “we already have two million active users. We’ve given nearly $1m to local charities.

“We’ve created a program that allows us to deepen our relationship with our guests and unlock new opportunities for personalisation. And it feels like Target.”

It also represents a major shift from the “REDperks” loyalty program that Target began testing in 2017. “It wasn’t a great program. There wasn’t much differentiation. It was too transactional,” Gomez admitted. “Frankly, it didn’t feel like it’s [from] Target.”

Having launched this initiative in test markets “with a ton of fanfare and there was a lot riding on it”, it was decided to “pull the plug” on it as consumer feedback and benchmarking efforts showed it was not the right fit for the brand.

“It was a difficult message to deliver. No matter how much we talk about the importance of learning from failure, the reality is that nobody really likes to fail,” said Gomez. But “when we got beyond the emotion of it, it actually was a pretty easy decision.”

Sourced from WARC