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Jen Boynton headshot

Target's 'Made to Matter' Brings Sustainable Products to the Masses

By Jen Boynton

Target recently joined Freya Williams' enviable list of "Green Giants" -- companies that generated a billion dollars or more in annual revenue from products or services with sustainability or social good at their core. This admirably lists includes giants like Tesla, Unilever, Toyota, Nike and GE and brings the sum total of revenue in the sustainable product economy to a jaw-dropping $150 billion and change. No small potatoes. For Target, it's all about the Made to Matter program.

Made to Matter launched in 2014 as an experiment to see if it was an effective way to meet customers' demand for natural, organic and sustainable products. The 16 original brands in the collection spanned six categories—Baby, Beauty and Personal Care, Grocery, Healthcare and Household and included customer favorites from Burt's Bees to Seventh Generation and brought new attention to unfamiliar names like SheaMoisture and Zarbee's Naturals.

Well, it was a pretty big success. As Jennifer Silberman, Target’s Corporate Social Responsibility VP, told me at Sustainable Brands 2016, the products included in the Made to Matter category experienced 30% growth in 2015. That's 1.5x the normal growth rate for a product in a Target store.

So now, Target is expanding the Made to Matter category, bringing in new manufacturers and new products from existing brands.


The products produced by the 20 brands must address at least one of the following issues: reduced sugar, closing the loop, clean label (transparency), less packaging/reduced waste or dietary restrictions. These 5 issues are noted "pain points" for Target customers: areas they've identified where they want more product offerings. The 102 products in "Made to Matter" certainly go toward meeting this customer need.

The criteria for being included in Made to Matter are somewhat vague. The brands are selected by a dedicated team for meeting the five goals above. They don't have strict numbers or cutoffs behind them, but Silberman insisted that wasn't the point, calling the purpose-driven group of brands "inspirational." Indeed the brands that are included in the program also have robust sustainability commitments of their own and loyal customers to critique them.

The fact that I can get these products without a trip to a special store is a huge win for me on convenience. These brands are now easily accessible to people who would never make a special trip, but are inclined toward sustainability if all things are equal. That's a huge win for the economy over all. We'll be watching this one while we enjoy our Annie's Mac washed down with some Suja juice.

Image credits: Target

Jen Boynton headshot

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

Read more stories by Jen Boynton