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In a comment about Target’s marketing efforts against Walmart, I wrote:

To be honest - and this is based on limited exposure, because I can’t go everywhere - I do not think that there is the kind of marked difference between Target’s best stores and Walmart’s best stores that Target seems to believe there is. I could be wrong about this...but that is my impression.

One MNB user responded:

I believe I am definitely biased towards Target because I can’t stand the low lighting, limited selection, and dirty Wal-Mart stores. Have you been to the remodeled Target stores with
produce? The stores are actually stocked with easy to shop merchandise, have friendly service (good luck trying to find a knowledgeable WM employee), and deal tags are apparent on the shelf. I have even stopped buying basics like dog food at Wal-Mart; they no longer carry my brand. So much for win-show-place…  

As I said, I haven’t been to every store. But you should try visiting some of the newer Walmart Supercenters, which can be excellent.

Another MNB user chimed in:

I shop both stores and would agree that the difference between experiences isn’t enough for me to change the fact that Wal-Mart gets the majority of my business. Target’s grocery department has less selection and higher prices. I checked, hoping for that experience differential when shopping. Target does have better clothes selection for the teen to twenty group, but not for the baby boomer (at least in my opinion). Target has disappointed me more than Wal-Mart, maybe because I am expecting a different experience when I visit Target than Wal-Mart.

MNB user Randy Friedlander wrote:

Target certainly has the scale to follow in Walmart's footsteps in driving down procurement and supply chain costs.  To some extent their prices are at par with Walmart.  However, Target has established a loyal customer following on the basis of selection, style, service and shopping experience.  (Few retailers besides Nordstrom are better at customer returns than Target.)  In order to go toe to toe with Walmart, some of that will be sacrificed in the name of cost reduction.  I don't see Target ever succeeding at trying to outdo Walmart; those folks in Bentonville are focused and relentless.  Your readers will certainly remember when Circuit City laid off its most experienced floor personnel to save money, because they were trying to offer consumers the "Walmart price" on electronics.  While Circuit City had other problems, that move was hastened their demise.  Consumers left CC in frustration over poor (or no) customer service and made their purchases at Walmart or Best Buy.  To quote the English rock band XTC, "Don't change your focus in the hopes of getting one."

MNB user Ray Harrison wrote:

I agree with you on Targets lack of effective price messaging.  However, in the stores that I have visited, there is indeed a marked difference in the quality of merchandise, the merchandising strategy and the overall customer experience.

MNB user Tim O’Connor wrote:

I think the issue is more fundamental for Target. They think of themselves as upscale and therefore
     Don’t appeal to everyone especially those on a careful budget.

     Their assortment decisions in food ignore the basics – lots of value-added products but no basic ingredients (eg flavored rice but little of the plain old bags of rice).

     The recent club pack event was a disaster in terms of inventory and stocking impact on the rest of the store.

They have such strong merchandising rules on faced out shelves but many holes in core goods that they filled with other products, killing shop-ability and usefulness of shelf tags - something they used to be good at.

5)      They are incredible marketers, incredible centrally controlled merchants, but need to learn more balance at the store level.

In other words, they have some work to do...
KC's View: