With 15 exclusive prints and lines covering women’s, plus size, girls, women’s shoes and accessories, toddler, home and beauty, the range included more than 250 pieces which were mostly priced around US$35. Shoppers stampeded to purchase the brightly-coloured products in stores and online, crashing Target’s website and mobile app simultaneously. Within a day of its launch – or as some shoppers claimed, within 10 minutes – the line was sold out.
Adweek writes that the collaboration had been hotly anticipated since it was announced in January. Jane Schoenborn, VP of creative communications and marketing for Lilly Pulitzer, told the publication that her brand has "taken aback by the frenzy," and the collaboration has "helped increase Lilly Pulitzer brand awareness."
Target’s bio about the brand credits Pulitzer with founding “American resort wear” as a genre in Florida during 1959.
“To this day, the vibrant line celebrates bold individuality and encourages women to embrace color and fearlessness in every part of their lives,” it says.
Customers initially took to Twitter to tweet about their successes and frustrations as they battled to secure a piece of the collection, using the hashtag #LillyforTarget.
Soon, however, the hashtag morphed into #LillyforEbay when the products started showing up on the online auction site, being on-sold as collectors’ items for inflated prices.
E-commerce branding expert Andrew Sirotnik of Fluid Inc. told Forbes magazine that the reselling aspect was the only failure in what was otherwise a hugely successful campaign. He said Target could have controlled the behaviour of customers who indiscriminately purchased large volumes of product for reselling by imposing a limit, like Uniqlo had for its line with Jil Sander.
Sirotnik also suggested Target could have better satisfied its regular shoppers and discouraged Ebay resellers by allowing members of its loyalty program members first pick.
“A brand like Target with a big loyalty program is in a position to reward its best customers,” he said. “Let them get a half-hour jump on the sale. Let them buy four items, with everyone else allowed two.”
Jessica Navas, chief planning officer at marketing agency Erwin Penland, told Forbes the disappointed customers were all part of the plan. She said they would be first in line for the next collaboration, describing the hysteria and queueing as “the new normal” in retail.
“Of course, we’re going to be just as excited for the next one,” she said. “Target is a pioneer of these collaborations. This one was really inspired, and reasserts their leadership in the collaboration environment.”