Influencer Relations and Target’s Plus-Sized WinBy Eleanor Pierce

Target keeps shooting, and these last few weeks, there have been some hits and some misses.

Miss: Canada.

As in, missed the entire country.

And it’s not like it’s small!

Sorry, Canadians.

After a brief stint, Target in Canada is turning out the lights and heading home.

(Note from Lindsay: *cries*.)


But Target did have another story in the news lately, and this one’s looking like a hit for the mega-retailer: Target scored by using influencer relations to help launch a plus-sized clothing line.

Don’t Call Your Plus-Sized Customers Cows of Any Type

A little background: Target is a great place to buy some pretty basic (language warning on that link) clothing on a budget.

Wait, that was a personal opinion. I’m editorializing a bit prematurely. Forgive me.

But seriously: A lot of people (and specifically, a lot of women) love shopping at Target.

Except, if you’re plus-sized, Target has not traditionally been your retail BFF.

For one, there was an incident in which standard sized dresses in a certain shade were called “heather gray” while plus sized dresses in the same color were called “manatee gray.”

Manatee. Also known as a “sea cow.” Yikes.

The cow thing aside, the real problem has been clothing selection, especially for high-profile designer collaborations.

In 2010, a plus-sized blogger named Marie Denee wrote an open letter to Target in which she and other plus sized bloggers decided to:

Come together with our followers and the fa(t)shionistas within the plus-size community to request, demand, and call for an inclusion of and/or special designer collaborations for the plus size fa(t)shionistas.

Then, last summer, blogger Chastity Garner of Garnerstyle saw another collaboration line come out without a plus-sized option. Garner’d had enough. She decided to organize a boycott.

Her boycott post read, in part:

Year after year, season after season, you put out these gorgeous designer collections and you almost never include a plus range. Every time each of these collections is about to be released it feels like a slap in the face. To add insult to injury, more than six months ago, you took most of your plus size clothing out of the store, promising me something new and improved and that has yet to happen. I’ve been in this abusive relationship with you for far too long. I can’t do this anymore. I will be personally boycotting Target altogether. No more housewares, grocery shopping, electronics…nothing. I’m done.

Target Tries Influencer Relations

So when Target planned the launch of their new plus size line AVA & VIV, they decided to bring in a few high-profile plus-sized bloggers to help—including Chastity Garner.

Bra-VO, Target!

The line launches later this month, according to Target.

As PRNewser noted in their piece on the move, the three plus-sized bloggers Target brought in on the campaign have “a combined 67,000 followers on Twitter and a direct line to potential customers who believe what they have to say.”

Even Jezebel, which, if you’re not a reader, hates just about everything (I’m kidding about that. Kind of.) had positive words about the line, in part because of the Target influencer relations campaign, and the sign-off from these prominent curvy fashionistas. Says Kelly Faircloth:

Personally, I don’t trust much of anything coming out of, well, any corporate PR department, and Target doesn’t have the best rep with plus-size women right now. But I do trust Gregg, Garner and Mason—and that’s the case for many other shoppers size 12 and up.

The Target influencer relations campaign is smart on a lot of levels. For one, consider 37 percent of consumers in the U.S. wear “plus sized” tops or bottoms, but plus sizes only account for 15 percent of the apparel industry’s annual sales. This is a sorely untapped market, and one that Target is in a prime position to monopolize upon.

But it’s also just a smart use of influencer relations: Target reached out to a customer who had been frustrated with the brand. They worked to actually make it right, and by repairing the relationship with a key influencer, they’re likely to get a lot of other consumers to forgive and forget—and to shop.

Image via Garner Style

Eleanor Pierce

Eleanor Pierce is a recovering journalist who can't decide which part of the country to call home. She's happiest when she's reading, though she also really likes writing, baking, dogs, and sarcasm. No, seriously.

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