Guest Research in Los Angeles and Denver

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel for work to visit Los Angeles and Denver. While not every position here at headquarters allows travel (or requires, depending on how you look at it!), it is one of my favorite parts of my job in the grocery area. I don’t particularly like airports, taxis or hotel rooms away from home and family but I do love talking directly with our Target guests.

For this research my team met pre-contacted guests at their homes and interviewed them in their living rooms and kitchens- environments that are familiar and comfortable. I love this type of qualitative research (called ethnography) because it gives us a pretty good idea of what their lives are really like, from their daily schedules and routines to the organization of the pantry and bathroom cabinets. The guest then takes us on a quick tour that allows them  to point out certain products, show us how and where they store them, why they’re important , etc.

Afterward, we follow these guests to their local store for the “shopalong” portion of the research. This is where we ask them questions about what they’re shopping for or simply stand back and observe them “in the zone” of their shopping behavior — watching the path they take, what they pick up, what catches their eye, and their general demeanor as they shop our stores.

After all the research is completed, we’re able to come back to Minneapolis and really bring the guest to life through internally-shared videos and quotes. Part of my job is to advocate for the guest, and also share their perspectives and needs in their own words directly to the decision-makers within merchandising and marketing. We then use those insights to develop robust strategies for the future.

My trips to Denver and LA were successful in learning some fascinating insights from our guests of course, but the other highlight of my trip was easily our celeb sightings. At lunch in-between interviews one day, we curiously eyed several surreptitious people in hats and sunglasses that we couldn’t quite make out, but then we definitely recognized Helena Bonham Carter and my favorite actress, Amy Adams! We tried not to freak out and make fools of ourselves, but I’m sure that our group of market researchers from the Midwest already looked quite out of place among the A-listers of Hollywood. 🙂

Learn more about Target opportunities in marketing & advertising here.

  • annie wang

    February 28th, 2013

    I’m curious about the process of selecting guests for these research shopping trips, how are they chosen and do you accompany a guest on just one trip or through out a month to pick up on purchasing habits? Are there any efforts at comparing a guests’s in-store behavior with their .com behavior?

    Reply
  • leah

    leah

    March 4th, 2013

    Hi Annie,

    In this instance, guests proactively agreed to participate in research by signing up with a 3rd party research panel. Or, as in other research, they give us their consent to be interviewed while already shopping in a Target store (known as an in-store intercept.) While this specific project reached out to guests at one point in time, others opt in to participate in longer-term online or mobile community boards so we get a better picture of their behavior over time. We also have a number of research projects completed and underway that look at multichannel shopping behavior. Great questions! -Leah

  • Tia

    April 3rd, 2013

    Hi Leah,

    Extremely interesting post. I’m going to be starting my post-grad career with Target as an MPD Business Analyst in June (coming all the way from NY). Looking forward to interacting with guest insights in the future and learning more!

    Best,
    Tia

    Reply
  • leah

    leah

    April 4th, 2013

    Hi Tia,

    An early welcome is in order, then! June will be an absolutely perfect time to arrive in MN. The summers are BEAUTIFUL!! 🙂

    -Leah

  • Jennifer Gates

    March 9th, 2016

    As someone who understands how online advertising/marketing campaigns are run across a variety of different channels, I am extremely surprised that a company with such a well rounded and advanced digital/social strategy works with an agency that can’t even schedule promotions properly. Yes mistakes happen, but serving an expired promotional display banner ad messaging a Swimsuit BOGO 50% Sale on the UPS tracking landing page for the Target Swimsuit Order that I just purchased full price (with NO promo code)? At first I was confused because it wasn’t advertised on the site, and then I spent a moment absolutely pissed that I didn’t save any money or get that deal in time.

    After going about my evening, later that night I refreshed the page to get an update on my delivery date and I noticed the Swimsuit BOGO display banner loaded again on the page. Well thanks for reminding me of how mad I was? Taking a closer look at the display creative I noticed the small grey blurry fine print that stated the offer expired 3/5. Well GREAT. Now I’m mad I didn’t see the expiration date before and spent time being upset and ranting about it to my friends throughout the day!

    Once I got over that, I became furious that of course I placed my order on 3/6 one day after the promo ended, because that’s just my luck. Ugh.

    After accepting my bad luck in every aspect of life, the digital marketer in me started to surface. What a horrible customer experience your agency consciously and actively created for me? Purchased product online, excited about the order shipping, served an ad when checking shipping status, mad the deal wasn’t messaged clearly on the site, pissed to learn the offer in the ad was actually expired; and most importantly thoroughly disappointed and upset that such a fabulous brand such as Target subjected me to this experience through their digital marketing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I complained some more to friends who work in the industry and would understand my frustration and then I went about the next 48 hours without any thought of the incident. THREE DAYS later I track my shipment because I want my new swimmies and I receive THE SAME EXPIRED Swimsuit BOGO 50% Banner?!?!?

    At first I felt guilt for thinking your agency was so horrible for running an incorrect promo just one day after its expired…but three full days? Doesn’t your agency monitor performance daily and optimize, wouldn’t they see this was still running in reporting and pause it? The list of reasons why it was just unacceptable and alluded to the fact that whoever runs your digital marketing campaigns isn’t doing their job (at least display) just continued to build in my mind.

    Does Target brand their UPS orders landing page and everyone sees an ad? If so, is everyone who placed an order getting that ad or just me? Is Target targeting (lol) customers on mobile who have already converted? That seems like an efficient way to spend your budget…not to mention all the wasted impressions! And obviously I’ve refreshed millions of times just to really prove my point and show you who’s boss.

    The irony of the entire experience and the fact that I understand how intentional yet unintentional it all was, was far too comical not to share.

    Please fire whoever runs your display campaigns and hire someone like me! Someone who is honored to work for a fabulous brand with such a talented and strategic marketing team, that they always create the most seamless, pleasant and accurate experiences for their loyal customers!

    Reply
  • Marketer

    March 9th, 2016

    As someone who understands how online advertising/marketing campaigns are run across a variety of different channels, I am extremely surprised that a company with such a well rounded and advanced digital/social strategy works with an agency that can’t even schedule promotions properly. Yes mistakes happen, but serving an expired promotional display banner ad messaging a Swimsuit BOGO 50% Sale on the UPS tracking landing page for the Target Swimsuit Order that I just purchased full price (with NO promo code)? At first I was confused because it wasn’t advertised on the site, and then I spent a moment absolutely pissed that I didn’t save any money or get that deal in time.

    After going about my evening, later that night I refreshed the page to get an update on my delivery date and I noticed the Swimsuit BOGO display banner loaded again on the page. Well thanks for reminding me of how mad I was? Taking a closer look at the display creative I noticed the small grey blurry fine print that stated the offer expired 3/5. Well GREAT. Now I’m mad I didn’t see the expiration date before and spent time being upset and ranting about it to my friends throughout the day!

    Once I got over that, I became furious that of course I placed my order on 3/6 one day after the promo ended, because that’s just my luck. Ugh.

    After accepting my bad luck in every aspect of life, the digital marketer in me started to surface. What a horrible customer experience your agency consciously and actively created for me? Purchased product online, excited about the order shipping, served an ad when checking shipping status, mad the deal wasn’t messaged clearly on the site, pissed to learn the offer in the ad was actually expired; and most importantly thoroughly disappointed and upset that such a fabulous brand such as Target subjected me to this experience through their digital marketing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I complained some more to friends who work in the industry and would understand my frustration and then I went about the next 48 hours without any thought of the incident. THREE DAYS later I track my shipment because I want my new swimmies and I receive THE SAME EXPIRED Swimsuit BOGO 50% Banner?!?!?

    At first I felt guilt for thinking your agency was so horrible for running an incorrect promo just one day after its expired…but three full days? Doesn’t your agency monitor performance daily and optimize, wouldn’t they see this was still running in reporting and pause it? The list of reasons why it was just unacceptable and alluded to the fact that whoever runs your digital marketing campaigns isn’t doing their job (at least display) just continued to build in my mind.

    Does Target brand their UPS orders landing page and everyone sees an ad? If so, is everyone who placed an order getting that ad or just me? Is Target targeting (lol) customers on mobile who have already converted? That seems like an efficient way to spend your budget…not to mention all the wasted impressions! And obviously I’ve refreshed millions of times just to really prove my point and show you who’s boss.

    The irony of the entire experience and the fact that I understand how intentional yet unintentional it all was, was far too comical not to share.

    Please fire whoever runs your display campaigns and hire someone like me! Someone who is honored to work for a fabulous brand with such a talented and strategic marketing team, that they always create the most seamless, pleasant and accurate experiences for their loyal customers!

    Reply

write a comment