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Is it Social Commerce or a Product Marketing License Agreement?

On June 30th, Target® Corporation launched a partnership with FEED Projects, a social business founded by Lauren Bush, to create the FEED USA + Target collection. The limited-time-only collection includes more than 50 stylish products and benefit Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The products are available at Target’s 1787 stores and on Target.com.  “As the founder of FEED, I am passionate about the fight against hunger and am thrilled to partner with Target to create our first ever co-branded lifestyle collection,” said Lauren Bush Lauren. “Through product sales, we hope to provide 10 million meals to Americans in need, which would make it the largest U.S. initiative in FEED’s history. I am proud that we will be able to empower guests to make a measurable impact through the purchase of the FEED USA + Target collection.”

Featuring an Americana aesthetic, the collection includes products spanning home, sporting goods, stationery, and apparel and accessories, with prices ranging from $3.00 to $400.00.  Each product displays the number of meals that will be donated to children and families through Feeding America as a result of the purchase.  The collection, with its modern, casual and hand-crafted feel, was co-designed by Lauren Bush Lauren.   “Establishing meaningful partnerships is part of Target’s brand legacy, from innovative design collaborations to long-term community programs,” said Stacia Andersen, senior vice president, merchandising, Target.  “Through our partnership with FEED, we are offering our guests an exclusive, stylish collection that also supports an important cause.”  Since its founding in 1946, the retailer has continually pledged 5% of its profits to its communities, a sum of that adds up to $4 million each week.

Only time will determine if this most recent collaboration between retail and social based business will result in increased sales, continued positive brand image for Target and significant funds for FEED USA causes. The program has spawned a debate among marketers as to whether the effort constitutes an expanded form of social commerce, sometimes abbreviated as “s-ecommerce,” a term most often used to describe new online retail models or marketing strategies that incorporate established social networks and/or peer-to-peer communication to drive sales.  The term social commerce first appeared in Yahoo!’s search blog in 2005. The Internet Company used the phrase to describe tools and products that make online shopping more social by means of leveraging social networks and facilitating user-driven content.

Whether or not it’s to be deemed social commerce is still up for debate. It has left some on social networks to lament over the quality and desirability of the product offerings. Yet others predict that most consumers are likely to buy the products in order to support FEED USA endeavors–rather than for the love of fashion.  Still others suggest a direct donation to one or more of the many good causes to feed hungry children without buying merchandise from Target.

Regardless of the tone of the message, it is clear that a conversation is taking place and both partners are positively impacting this social cause.  Is FEED USA + Target collection an example of the expanded definition of social commerce?  Is it just another cleaver, do-good product marketing license agreement designed to make consumers aware of the noble cause of FEED USA? And possibly, could it be a really effective marketing campaign to build sales and elevate Target’s brand legacy of building strong, healthy and safe communities through giving and service?  We’d love to know what you think!

1 Response
  1. Dick Eydt

    Very well done piece on many levels, clean, crisp, meaningful, thought provoking and best of all – hope it generates solid leads for JC

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