The Target Canada Blame Game

Image From Vertical Response

Image From Vertical Response

Ok so we’re all looking at this Target Canada fiasco and thinking…’ya…they kinda sucked anyhow…nothing like the Targets in the US’

 So what’s the learning here from a branding and marketing POV? There are many that point the blame at the head honchos at Target for being disorganized, and even greedy in trying to tackle such a large undertaking – becoming the largest retailer in Canada is no easy feat after all.

But I am going to offer a different argument here – I am going to go out on a limb and point at the Canadian consumer mindset and lay some of the blame there.  Too many times we Canadians are looking to compare our supposed buying power and liken it to that of our geographical cousins south of the 48th parallel – this is just simply crazy talk. We have an extremely high taxation on goods and services, not near the population to warrant discounted pricing at an economy of scale as that of the USA, and finally we have simply laid down and taken our lumps in the past and indicated to brands that Canadians are willing to simply pay more for the same stuff.


What does this mean? Well Target Canada didn’t have to adjust their pricing or even offer unique product SKU’s to Canadians – we were too happy just to have Target replace the even more disorganized Zellers (yes, remember them?? Club Z? Zeddy?). We just liked to be able to say ‘ooh Tar-ghey is coming!’ I think we bought into the hype – hook, line and sinker. Simply wanted it too bad.

 Fast forward 48 months later and Target Canada is folding – shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the retailer didn’t hit any of it’s quotas, and the overall expansion here was in effect killing their brand equity globally.

It’s a shame really, as I think Target forced some of the other big box chains to step up their game – Canadian Tire, Loblaws to name a couple – but I think we can learn from this as Canadian consumers and perhaps not be so fast to run to a US-retailer and expect that it’ll be just like we know it from shopping there stateside.

So as Jay-Z famously said: On to the next one.


  • Jahenzab

    TARGET, failure is due to its own policy & greed..Target Canada is way different then Target USA as it was cheating to Canadian..Lets compare Target have lots of varieties and low/reasonable prices in USA and Target was just enter in Canadian market to reap off Canadians…Also Target didnt realised Canadians are not stupid still we Canadian went to USA and shopped at USA Target now Target management need brain to think Bye Bye Target we dont want you in Canada

  • Lee Daniel

    I’ll politely disagree with this article — how were the Canadian consumers supposed to know that Target Canada was gonna be so different than Target USA? Canadians drive hours into the USA to get that great Target “stuff”. They came across our borders promising everything we love about Target! If they weren’t going to offer the same merchandise and same value, then they should have positioned themselves much differently.

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