I Have To Say It: #HunterXTarget Was A Bust

If you know just one thing about me, it's probably that I'm a crazy Target lady. I tell my boyfriend that I'm just running in because I need allergy medicine or because I'm out of mascara but he and I both know that I'm using it as a cover to stake out the entirety of the home, clothing, and beauty sections and allow Target to tell me exactly what I need. Half the time I don't even leave with what I originally intended to get. And while I hold Target near and dear to my heart, the only response I can muster to the hotly anticipated Hunter x Target collaboration that launched this last Saturday is an emphatic face palm. It's a short story that begins with excited anticipation and ends with #TARGETFAIL trending on social media.

In recent years, Target, a company that enjoys an almost cult-like adoration amongst its customers, has become increasingly known for its collaborations with recognizable designers and influencers. At the beginning of March, Target announced their partnership with the popular British outerwear company Hunter on a limited-edition collection centered on celebrating "the spirit of joy, optimism, and daily adventure." The of launch, however, left most of us feeling the exact opposite.

The collection sold out almost instantaneously both in-store and online, and a quick Google search will return a whole slew of emotional responses ranging from elation by the lucky few who seemingly cleared out the racks buying rain gear for the whole family to anger and disappointment by the other 99% of people who came up empty-handed. Target doesn't play around when it comes to their "limited-edition" collections, with some customers even reporting that only only one pair of boots in each size was available in-store and others noting with dismay that the collection was never even available at a store near them. I myself was part of the disappointed mass that woke up on Saturday morning and checked Target's website only to find that everything was already sold out (figures). By Saturday afternoon I had already seen the empty-rack images going up on Instagram, but I made Ryan drive me to Target anyway just to indeed confirm that all the boots and bags were sold out (they were except for the black and white sneaker-style wellies that I opted to pass on).

The Hunter collection being available in such small quantities was already a disappointment (really? Only 6 pairs of each style at a handful of stores?), but the story of everyone's HunterXTarget woes doesn't end there. Even some of those who were able to get a hold of a pair (or 5) of the coveted boots were still met with disappointment over the exceedingly poor quality. And what was probably the most hotly-anticipated product in the entire 300-piece collection, the tall rain boots iconic to the Hunter brand, was pulled last minute over quality control concerns (and in some cases, literally yanked from people's hands at the register at stores that didn't quite get the memo in time). The Instagram and Twitter posts speak louder than words in attesting to the overall shoddy handiwork, and both Hunter and Target should be embarrassed (I'm embarrassed FOR them). Currently the tall boots are listed as "delayed" online, with no information being provided on when (or if) Target will try to release them for sale. It looks like I may not be getting my red rain boots after all!

This whole debacle has just left me sitting here wondering what the heck happened?

Overall, the collection resulted in a poor experience for excited Target shoppers in addition to a fresh chapter in the ongoing fiasco over Hunter's alleged declining product quality and customer service. Close attention to detail and diligent quality control should have been a top priority for all parties involved, especially in the production of a product that represents a well-established and highly popular designer brand already struggling to reconcile a string of defective product batches and customer service hotline glitches. Instead, everyone's time and energy seems to have gone into generating hype and driving up excitement for the collection's release, a release that the retail giant apparently wasn't actually prepared for and should have spent more time on.

There are plenty of large department stores that successfully implement limited-release designer collaborations at select stores, the most noteworthy one being Nordstrom. But while Nordstrom is only comprised of 370 stores (215 of them being Nordstrom Rack stores), Target has a whopping 1,822 stores and a much larger client base than the smaller and generally more well-heeled crowds that mill around Nordstrom. The numbers aren't really even comparable. As such, Target needs to scale their product lines accordingly to avoid alienating a large percentage of its shoppers and providing an overall bad customer experience. As a customer, it's a real bummer to look back and realize that about 75% of the people Target's marketing reached never even had a shot at purchasing items from the collection (And 75% feels like a generous estimate).

The entire release was nothing but a hot mess, and a collaboration that should have been an exciting and noteworthy bookmark in Target's portfolio is now a chapter that Hunter, Target, and the rest of us will likely want to forget.

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