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We had a long piece yesterday about the corporate intrigue taking place at Target, which prompted a number of emails.

MNB user Craig Espelien wrote:

I have been involved with Target on a variety of levels over the years and, while I admire them as a company and feel their “brand” is the right one the concept of speed and cutting edge thinking are no longer part of who they are. Everything is handled by committee (at least as far as I can tell) with consensus being the goal. As most folks will know, consensus takes a LONG time – especially in larger companies with more levels of management. From their internal brand structure to their execution at the stores, they appear more and more to be a conglomeration of small business units that have forgotten they are part of whole.

In their private brand space they have struggled with their brand position and their product quality (as an example, they hire such young buyers that there is little or not thought given to quality during a bid – only after the quality goes wrong do they realize that they need to have specifications figured out prior to a bid). Their Archer Farms brand is intended to be the “Expect More” of their Expect More. Pay Less. Positioning but I am not sure they have told the customer that or celebrated what the in-store expectations should be. The Market Pantry brand is the Pay Less piece of the puzzle – but again, no clear direction to the consumer on what they should expect. Finally, the lines between the two brands tend to blur (Target has had very little governance of where the quality and brand breaks should be – at least as it manifests to the consumer).

Great company. Almost too big for the processes they are using. Walmart stays current by hiring talented folks and allowing them to work inside a rigorous process that produces decent product (they continue to struggle with innovation).

If Target want to regain their edge, they need to make sure that internally and externally EVERYONE understand their brand and what value stands for.

MNB user Richard Lowe wrote:

Just like our own government there should be term limits on all governing boards and yes, Target is ripe for some changes.

As a supplier on the out side trying to get in with a revolutionary new product. Target's purchasing department was impossible to communicate with and always seem to have their head in the sand. They also have the idea that it is their way or the highway! Salesmen should always be welcome, as their ideas can be the life blood of an organization. Especially in the fast changing world of retail!

I believe many of our corporations could stand some new governance and hope it all comes to be!

MNB user Michael F. Parker wrote:

I was a Target employee during its turnaround starting in 1975. I have always admired Target’s and its predecessor, Dayton Hudson, for its social commitment and community involvement. I believe that Target has been impacted most by the destruction of the upper middle class created by Wall Street greed and corruption. It has been my experience that any time financial people control retail it is the beginning of the end.

I truly understand finance 101 and that return on shareholder investment control’s all actions. This may be why we have the meltdown we are encountering in retail. I believe that Jim Donald tried to do the right things at Starbucks but was cut off at the knees by financial interest.

Walmart is successful because it has no social conscience and I believe that Sam is doing cartwheels in his grave to see how his child is abusing, employee’s, vendors and competitors, all in the name of Finance 101. Is there no end to corporate greed?

KC's View: