When George Dayton founded Dayton Dry Goods Company in 1902, he did so based on the belief in the “higher ground of stewardship.” His store, which eventually became Target Corporation, was known for dependable merchandise, fair business practices, and a generous spirit of giving—traits today’s Target stands for as well.





  • Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Founding year: 1902
  • Number of locations as of January 2011: 1,755
  • Brands: Archer Farms, Market Pantry, Choxie, Sutton & Dodge, and Wine Cube
  • FY 2010 sales: $65.8 billion, a 3.7% increase over 2009 figures

Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and CEO, believes the reason Target has remained a major player in retail for as long as it has comes back to three key ingredients: brand, strategy, and team. “Our carefully cultivated brand encompasses our unique and differentiated product assortment, our ability to deliver great value, and our expertise in creating a superior shopping experience, whether in our clean, bright, and easy-to-shop stores or online and on-the-go through mobile technology. It also includes some of the boldest, most recognizable marketing in the business and a depth of community commitment that connects us in a unique and powerful way with our guests.”

In 1911, after a decade of significant growth, Dayton Dry Goods Company was renamed The Dayton Company to better reflect its array of products and services. The company became known as Dayton’s department store, and, in 1916, it became a founding member of the Retail Research Association.

The Dayton Company continued to grow throughout the 1950s, and in 1960, it began taking steps toward mass-market retailing. Although risky, the brand was successful in transforming itself from a family-run department store chain into one of the nation’s largest discount-store chains. The move became official in 1961, and the first official Target store opened in 1962. The reasoning behind the chain’s bull’s eye logo was a result of the company’s desire to hit the mark when it came to retail goods, services, commitment to the community, price, value, and overall experience.

Target went public in 1967, and in 1968, its logo was streamlined to represent a more direct and simple symbol of the company. Target’s use of planograms began in 1974, and today, the same concept is used to offer customers clean, uncluttered, and in-stock merchandise presentations. The company celebrated an organizational milestone in 1979, when it achieved $1 billion in annual sales. 

Target’s history as a successful retailer is also highlighted with its focus on giving back to its communities, starting in 1918 when George Dayton created The Dayton Foundation. With a $1 million endowment and mission to promote the welfare of mankind, The 

Dayton Foundation left its mark and is now known as The Target Foundation. In 1946, The Dayton Company established its practice of giving back 5% of pretax profits to the community. By doing so, the company became the second American company to establish a preset amount of annual giving. Since 1997, Target has donated more than $500 million to support education, which equals more than $3 million a week.

The company has also invested green and sustainable practices going as far back as the 1960s when it devoted part of its giving strategy to urban renewal and the 1970s when it sponsored the first Earth Day Celebration.

And although Target’s work outside of its doors helps to build relationships with its community members, what happens inside its stores is what keeps them coming back for more, starting with its “Expect More. Pay Less.” brand promise.

“Our brand promise keeps the company’s focus exactly where it should be: on guests. It’s how we deliver our guest-inspired combination of fashion, quality, newness, convenience, and value—and over the next few years our strategy will help us convert casual guests into best guests, make best guests even more loyal, and attract totally new guests to the Target brand,” said Steinhafel. “But it’s our world-class team that drives our brand and strategy—and, consequently, our success.”

Steinhafel credits Target’s team’s ability to anticipate, perceive, and deliver what’s relevant to guests as the source of Target’s strength and the engine of its continuous innovation. “Collective strength comes from the diverse perspectives of our 355,000 team members and drives Target’s success, creating a formula that’s impossible for others to imitate,” he said. “Our team balances creativity with operational excellence—and short-term imperatives with long-term growth—better than anyone else in the business.”

With 109 years behind it and no evidence of its popularity slowing (the company’s net retail sales for the four weeks ending February 26, 2011 showed a 2.4% increase over last year’s figures), it’s clear Target’s offering of quality, value, convenience, and fun is a mix that continues to be important to today’s consuming public.

“The comprehensiveness of our assortment makes Target a true one-stop-shop,” said Steinhafel. “We’ve driven our value proposition to new levels of competitiveness, and guests love knowing that significant portions of their purchases will be reinvested to support education and overall health and well-being in the communities we share.”

rmcover janfeb2016

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