Picture this picture within a picture: At Target's headquarters in Minneapolis, employees have access to a test store within the store's main compound. So meta.
Used for real-time consumer research and development, Target HQ's secret full-size test store was built in 2017 as a way for Target designers, visual merchandisers, retail partners, executives, and other key players to tinker with everything from signage to shelf placement to pilot diffusion lines and new house brands in a full 3-D versus digital-only decision making environment.
Last week, Co.Design senior writer Mark Wilson was the first member of the press to be invited behind the wizard's curtain of the 100,000 square foot (one whole city block) test store in downtown Minneapolis, along with Target VP of visual merchandising Erika De Salvatore. "We couldn't even take many pictures of the space, aside from the few tightly cropped shots you see here, as Target is highly protective of the intellectual property inside," Wilson reports.
By walking a mile in customer's shoes, literally, the Target team can better visualize and simulate the guest experience and tinker as needed—which De Salvatore told Wilson and Co.Design "is actually a ton of cost savings, believe it or not… So we're able to troubleshoot a lot faster." Everything from which items are placed where (affecting Target's bottom lines) to allowing partners to see their pop-ups within an actual store environment before final decisions are made (on things like color variations and visual displays dictated by current trends).
Read Wilson's full behind-the-scenes tour and interview with Target over on Co.Design in their exclusive coverage.