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As we have recounted previously in these abstracts, Target was something of a game-changer when it came to introducing luxury, exclusive labels and brands to regular shoppers. In infamous, innovative experiments, the mass market retailer made Lilly Pulitzer dresses, Marimekko rugs, and Michael Graves housewares available to regular customers—at least until the popular items sold out. The successes these partnerships bring for all parties have led to their persistence for more than 20 years, as well as Target’s continued efforts to find new collaborations, with an extended view of what makes for a good partner. As a grocery retailer, Marks & Spencer might not seem relevant; it is not a luxury brand in the conventional sense of the word. But the U.K. retailer has a strong, high-end reputation, due to its ability to make grocery shopping seem like an entertaining diversion. Known for turning stores into holiday wonderlands, Marks & Spencer evokes pleasure and attainable luxury. In collaborating with it, for a limited holiday product line, Target is giving customers a means to decorate their holiday dinner tables with fancy salted caramels shaped like pinecones or glittering chocolates. Or they might purchase an array of British delicacies, like shortbread in decorative lanterns, to share as gifts that signal their good taste (literally and figuratively). In line with the overall motivation for Target’s collaborative strategy, the offerings are fancy but affordable; shoppers get to signal that they are classy enough to indulge in British treats, while still keeping their holiday budgets intact.

Sources: George Anderson, “Can Marks & Spencer Help Target Recreate its Designer Collab Magic in Grocery?” Retail Wire, November 1, 2022; https://www.target.com/c/project-wildcat/-/N-s80gx