Target debuts clean label for personal care products

This is the latest step in Target‘s plan, first announced in 2017, to offer products without unwanted chemicals and with greater transparency regarding product formulations.

By 2020, the overall plan is to formulate products without the chemicals on its priority list, and to label products clearly to indicate those free of ingredients like phthalates, parabens and formaldehyde. “Target Clean” is now one of more than a dozen Target labels indicating whether products are, for instance, organic, non GMO, gluten-free, bio-based or cruelty free, among other things. For the long-term, Target has also committed to investing up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.

With this new label, Target is making a bet that it has enough trust built with customers that the icon will become shorthand for better-for-you and better-for-your-wallet products. Hennington noted that Target shoppers are increasingly interested in those types of products.

Other companies are capitalizing on the trend too. In 2017, upstart Brandless shook the industry with a business model that offered all of its products — mostly consumer goods and cleaning supplies — free of toxic chemicals and most for $3 each. The company recently began offering some products for $9 as it moves into baby and pet categories, but its core mission is about making it easier for consumers to quickly find affordable and clean household essentials.

Sitting at a higher price point, digitally native brand Grove Collaborative also makes a similar promise to shoppers by making it easier to buy natural products. For Grove, the priority is building a strong relationship with customers through phone consultations with service associates and personalized shipments. As a mass merchandiser, though, Target is making more of a convenience and value proposition to its customers. That ties in to the company’s overall mission to become “America’s easiest place to shop.”


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