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Published: 3 Aug 2015

Target: Back-to-School Digi-Style

Target, Made for U College Styler

In anticipation of the impending back-to-school shopping season, US retailer Target has launched the Made For U College Styler – an online platform designed to help college students decorate their dorm rooms and boost engagement among its millennial audience.

Accessible via the brand's e-commerce site from both mobile and desktop, the tool analyses consumers' personal style based on an online questionnaire, which asks things such as 'Where is your happy place?' and 'Which colours are totally you?' The results are combined with information pulled from their social media profiles, such as the colour palette of Instagram photos and their Facebook likes – analysing key interests such as musical tastes or restaurants.

For more on the uses of personalisation-focused algorithms to push sales, see Sensory Algorithms Customise Scents, Reactive Retailing and Bespoke Beauty: New Retail Strategies.

The Made For U College Styler subsequently creates personalised, fully shoppable room mock-ups with Target products selected specifically for small living spaces and the student budget in mind (see First Apartment Design Comes of Age, PBTeen Design Lab, California, Interiors Retailing Online and Going Micro: The Art & Science of Designing for Small Spaces for more). Pushing the promotion further, users are encouraged to compare their design with their future roommates by inviting them to take part via email, and to share it with friends via social media.

The brand collaborated with Canadian homeware designer and manufacturer Umbra on the college-themed product selection. The range was partly inspired by ideas crowdsourced from its own consumers with the assistance of US tech specialists Betterific. Target tapped into about 180 user-generated ideas surrounding themes such as personalisation, privacy, roommate communication and small-space living. It then worked with students from the University of Minnesota in the US to narrow the ideas down to eight products – including a bed sheet with storage pockets. For more on the evolution of crowdsourcing as a brand strategy see Wahaca's Crowdsourced Dining. Also look out for our upcoming report, Beta Brandscapes, publishing in September 2015 as part of our new Macro trend.

For more on the value of co-creation, see Product Hubs: Experimentation & Co-Creation, part of our Future of the Store Industry Trend. For more on the use of social media to fuel commerce, see The Social Sell, ASAP54 Boosts Instagram Retail, Harness The Hunt: Retail's New Search Strategies and Instagram for Retail Brands. Also look out for our upcoming report The Social (Media) Sell Revisited, publishing mid-August.

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