The Lilly Pulitzer-Target debacle in April may have not been a disaster after all. Although both companies received excessive backlash for the rapid sellout of items and the crash of Target’s website, this incident could be a lesson for designer labels to successfully improve future brand perception for mass retailers.
Many critics expressed concern that selling lower-quality reproductions of timeless designer pieces would hurt the brand’s exclusiveness and “premium image.” On the contrary, the limited-time collection only heightened the brand’s exclusivity while expanding its customer base. Palm Beach goers and Lilly-clad sorority sisters were the brand’s main following before the Target line. By introducing the brand to millions of younger, social-media-savvy customers, Lilly Pulitzer gained a mainstream following.
People were also critical about the reselling of the Lilly Pulitzer products. Newsweek stated that some of the $38 dresses that sold out in a matter of minutes on Target’s website were being auctioned off on eBay for over $200 soon after. Although many critics, including Target, saw this as a problem, the value perception of Target products increased because of the line’s demand. Target was now in a different playing field than other mass retailers because of their low price allure paired with the appeal of exclusivity generated by the products reselling.
Most importantly, people naturally want what they can’t have. By making a limited number of items and promising to sell them for a limited amount of time, Target increased the brand’s demand by making such a mass-marketed line seem über exclusive. Mass retailers, take notes. If a “disaster” turned out this good, I’d love to see what a “success” will look like with future luxury label partnerships with Target.
– Amy Donkel
Sources: Newsweek , Harvard Business Review