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Remember Target’s plan to revamp its grocery department? De-emphasizing pedestrian products like canned goods and kids’ cereal, for higher-end foods like Greek yogurt, granola, specialty coffee and craft beer?

It seems there will be an unfortunate side effect to that transformation plan – fewer traditional grocery products on the shelves, and even fewer deals and discounts on those that remain.

Hope you like paying full price for your food!

It was back in March that Target executives detailed a “transformation roadmap” for their faltering company – naming Style, Baby, Kids and Wellness as its priorities, and lessening its growing emphasis on everyday grocery products. Instead, the grocery aisles will feature more organic, healthy, higher-end, store-brand specialties.

Now, insiders are offering some information about what that plan will mean for the rest of Target’s grocery offerings.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that representatives from top manufacturers including Kellogg, Campbell Soup and General Mills were summoned to Target headquarters recently, and told that their products won’t be as prominently featured or as heavily promoted anymore. “Fancy sauces and oils” are in, the sources said, while products like Campbell’s canned soup and Kraft’s processed foods are out.

“That doesn’t mean that mac and cheese is being eliminated,” CEO Brian Cornell told the newspaper. But there won’t be as much shelf space devoted to such products, and they won’t be discounted as frequently, or featured in store circulars.

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You won’t see signs of the grocery transformation plan in stores just yet. But a look at Target’s printable coupon selection offers a clue as to what the future will look like. Whereas once the Target website featured at least a dozen frequently-updated pages of more than a hundred printable grocery coupons, today there are a mere six pages worth of coupons, far less frequently replenished, and many of them are for Target-brand products.

For now, there are still brand-name grocery discounts available on Cartwheel and in the weekly store circular. But for how long?

According to the Wall Street Journal, several manufacturers are now looking to shift their promotional spending to other retailers that give them more support. If Target isn’t going to feature their products, the manufacturers may no longer be willing to offer promotions or price discounts that Target can pass along to shoppers. Many of the companies reportedly feel burned by Target, after they helped the retailer build a grocery business from scratch over the past decade, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by Target’s transformation plan.

Some would argue it’s not Target’s tastes that are changing – it’s ours. Packaged and processed foods are falling out of favor at Target, because they’re falling out of favor among consumers in general. “Assortment is being shaped around what consumers are looking for,” Cornell said. And Target is betting that consumers are looking for fresh foods, prepared meals and organic and natural brands, instead of the stuff you find in a typical supermarket.

Ultimately, Target wants its grocery aisles to look more like Trader Joe’s and less like Walmart.

That’s great, if that’s what you’re into. But we all need milk and bread, and trash bags and toilet paper. At the new Target, those products will still be there if you want them. But there will be fewer to choose from, and the store won’t put much effort into promoting or discounting them with sales or store coupons.

So if you like to get your grocery staples at Target, better be prepared to pay full price for a smaller selection. Either that – or be prepared to get them somewhere else.

Photo by robholland

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5 Comments

  1. Target’s “trend” is eliminating groceries in all non – “Greatland” and “Super” Target store and refocusing their energy on what made them great – selling
    overpriced Wal Mart quality items to hipsters.

  2. Who want’s all that processed foods anyway. Kraft and the other companies should focus on making healthier products. I like shopping at Target and like that it is a place where I can pick up groceries along with other items. Sometimes I don’t feel like going to two stores, especially if I want to pickup some small items with a box of cereal or something. I like variety when it comes to foods and would like something different than the traditional foods like Kraft. Also like shopping at Target, the store that I go do is very organized and makes Walmart look like a dump. I don’t care about the prices and will continue to shop there. Also shop at Trader Joe’s too, just not Walmart.

  3. anonymous2 says:

    Sounds like a Target drives themselves into bankruptcy plan.

  4. Ive never liked buying groceries where I would buy household items, clothes and toys. I think it all just becomes too much a temptation and/or background noise. If Target became a department store or a grocery store I may go there but as it stands currently it is just a step or two ahead of being a Walmart.

  5. If I want a Trader Joe’s style shopping experience, I’ll just go to Trader Joe’s!

    But groceries are relatively low profit margin items compared to much of Target’s product selection, so I get why they are doing this. Honestly, as long as they keep competing on Huggies and Pampers with the gift card deals, that single promotion will bring in enough foot traffic — and those folks will probably buy some groceries while they are there.

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