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Target Hits a Bullseye Introducing Sustainability to a Mass Market

Words by Leon Kaye

Target may just look like another big box store on the outside, but more of its product lines have a sustainable angle than you would think. Furthermore the company is doing more behind the scenes, from eco-friendly commercial shoots to its recent ban on sandblasted jeans.

But selling sustainability to consumers is still a challenge. Shoppers may want a better experience than when they walk into a chaotic Walmart, but they still are looking for a deal. But through its blog, or what Target calls, “a magazine,” Target presents compelling stories about some of its products that could benefit the company’s sales, its vendors and in the long run, more companies committed to more ethical and ecological consumer goods.

A Bullseye View is one of Target’s approaches towards humanizing the company and shining the spotlight on its vendors. There’s a little something for everyone. In case you missed it, this week was National Princess Week and Julie Andrews sat down with bloggers to talk about everything from how to be a princess (or a singing nun) to work life balance.

But for those who find National Princess Week a little too Dance Moms for their liking, or want their child’s princess party (or a RuPaul’s Drag Race Finale Bash) to be more green or environmentally sustainable, Target has recently profiled some companies that are pushing the boundaries of sustainability. One of them is Method, the company that made cleaning products cool and won a huge boost when Target started featuring their products a decade ago. The article is brilliant for emphasizing the company’s climb from an unknown conventional outfit to a B Corporation giant. The story zooms in on the cool, not the green, and is passionate, not preachy.

Other companies Target showcases include Yes To, the beauty products company that eliminates the “anti” from its packaging and instead highlights positivity. In an interview with its co-founder, Ido Leffler, readers learn how Yes To rethinks the ideas of what a beauty cream is all about and the connection between skin care and healthy food choices. Contrast that young company with the relatively ancient Burt’s Bees, the natural candle turned lip balm company sold in over 30 countries. Instead of focusing on the “don’t do’s,” the interview with the company’s Burt Shavitz discusses a wide array of ingredients from almonds to pomegranates and what they do.

At a time when we are bombarded by so many marketing messages that we turn all of them out, Target’s approach towards pitching its more socially responsible products is a great way to reach out to customers. Retailers who feel the pressure to sell goods better for the planet and people but think they will not sell are falling behind . . . and should take a look at how Target is leading on this front.

Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo courtesy Target.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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