Mass Meets Class

September 1998


Mass Meets Class

Upscale advertising can make cheap look chic

Mass-market retailers needn't be stuck with a low-end image. No one has proven this theory better than Target, the discount chain whose ads declare "fashion leader" loud and clear. What Target is doing to glamorize budget merchandise could be a useful model for retailers of all types of bread-and-butter goods, including basic gold jewelry.

This spring, for instance, the company did a splashy 12-by-24-in., four-page newspaper insert that looked more like the work of a high-end cosmetics company than a mass merchandiser. The opening page was pure mood-setter: a full-page shot of a young woman's face against an ocean background. Her eyes are closed – presumably she's dreaming of all the "clear choices" (the insert's theme) available at Target. Inside, another fashion-magazine- like, full-page shot and opposite it, 24 fashion photos of Target products, framed so they look like slides for a glossy magazine. The highest-priced garment shown costs a mere $29.99. On the back page is a list of 10 must-have fashion items for spring – inexpensive clothing and accessories glamorized by their chic surroundings.

In another newspaper ad, the company shows a fork nonchalantly but elegantly wrapped in a strand of $69.95 "pearls" (the ad copy won't do much to enhance the retailer's image with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee). In the company of ads from high-end shoe and apparel stores, the Target ad looks completely at home.

Even budget products can be promoted with a high-fashion look, as this summer ad by discount chain Target demonstrates.



Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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