Missoni for Target: A Lesson for Retailers?

Sold out Missoni for Target: poncho, $49.99, tote bag $34.99, scarf, $19.99

Minneapolis—When a luxurygoods brand, such as Prada or Hermès, controls how much of a new style in handbags and footwear is available at retail, it’s called “planned scarcity.”

So what do you call it when Target, a leading purveyor of “masstige” merchandise, premieres its Missoni for Target collection on Tuesday only to have its website crash, phone lines jam and see eBay resellers hawking the same merchandise at many times more than its retail price?

That’s precisely what happened when Target’s largest designer collaboration ever with Italian brand Missoni began selling—selling out that is—at 8 a.m. Tuesday as shoppers scrambled for the colorful zigzags and wovens that are Missoni’s signature.

The collaboration is Target’s largest, consisting of more than 400 pieces from women’s apparel and accessories to men’s, children’s, home, even a Missoni bicycle.

One store manager in a suburban Target told the Minneapolis Star Tribune:”I think we were a little bit blown away. I just don’t think we were prepared for how fast things were going to go. Guests had full shopping carts, full baskets.”

Indeed by 9:30 many stores were sold out and, much to others dismay, Target.com crashed.

Irate shoppers bombarded Target’s Facebook page complaining about being shut out, having duplicate credit card charges or finding the new Missoni merchandise for sale on eBay at prices many times their Target retails. (At presstime, eBay listed having nearly 24,000 pieces from the Missoni collection up for auction or “buy now”).

Treasure Hunt Shopping is Back?

One budding entrepreneur started her own Facebook page, “Locked Out of Missoni for Target—FAIR Trade Here,” where she encouraged other Target shoppers to “come here and sell no markups.”

Others encouraged shoppers to write in and complain to Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s ceo, about their experiences.

One man, who reported he spent hours trying to make a purchase for merchandise that was no longer available, posted: “I will now buy my Missoni towels from Neiman Marcus. They will be a bargain compared to the time and effort that I spent trying to buy what I am sure is a pale imitation of the original.”

Nonetheless, Target wound up having a day that rivaled Black Friday in transactions.

“Now take a look at what’s going on at Target,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group, Inc. “It’s a ‘brand renaissance’ combined with consumers seeking value. The combination of the Missoni Brand and Target means brands for less. A name brand for great price and it was offered with a deadline, it becomes impulsive and exciting. Treasure hunt shopping is back, at least for the moment.”

And on the same day that the U.S. Commerce Department reported that August retail sales were flat, the Missoni sell out is a bright spot despite thousands of disappointed–and disgruntled–shoppers.

“This is the kind of thing retail needs, said Cohen, “Others will try to copy it and that is just the kind of jump start retailers need to get excitement and growth back in the equation.”

Target’s website was live again today and the retailer said some stores will receive periodic shipments of merchandise through Oct. 22, when the limited promotion is scheduled to end.

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Jeff Prine, Editor at Large, Accessories Magazine
Jeff returns as a regular contributor to Accessories magazine. Initially Jeff worked as senior editor at Accessories more than 20 years ago and his love of the industry has followed him until present. Since his tenure here, Jeff has continued to report jewelry, watch and other luxury goods trends as executive editor at Modern Jeweler magazine, fashion director at Lustre, and as contributor on products and trends for consumer and trade publications and websites. In addition to his editorial experience, Jeff also served as an adjunct instructor for accessories merchandising at Fashion Institute of Technology. jeffp@busjour.com

  • Anonymous

    yeah they’ll all complain until the next designer collaboration. Then they’ll be lining up for that one too. eBay must love all this!

  • Style Sleuth

     Wonder if the same thing will happen with Jason Wu collection?

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