Target Is Using Philanthropy to Make Back-To-School Better Than the Holiday Season

Philanthropy is always great, but is it the answer for Target?

targetThe holiday shopping season certainly wasn’t good to Target. Perhaps a little too eager to put that in the past, the retailer is already focusing on the back-to-school season. Not even a week after the 4th of July.

To get its mojo back post-data breach, Target is launching a campaign focused on social responsibility — Buy One, Give One — that will give one of Target’s brand of up & up school supply items to a student in need for every purchase made between July 13 and August 2. Items like crayons and paper will be included, more than 300 products in total. The goal is to donate $25 million worth of things to Kids in Need.

“If we reach that goal, this will be the largest cause campaign donation Target has ever made to a single organization; an important milestone on our way to giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015,” reads the press release about the program.

This is great. The company points out that parents are spending an average of $600 on back-to-school shopping each year, a steep price for many people. But it doesn’t really address the whole data-breach, digital-security thing.

“[T]he data breach is bound to be on the minds of thousands of shoppers who come to the store — or don’t. Target must pull off back-to-school without a hitch,” writes USA Today.

Customers, especially those that were burned during the data breach will want to be satisfied that they won’t have a repeat of the holidays. And customers who didn’t experience any troubles will still want assurances that there aren’t any issues lurking at the register.

Key here will be coupling these charitable, back-to-school messages with an honest discussion of the security breach and how things are different now. It might be a difficult conversation for the retailer to have, but they have to stick this data breach out through the end. That doesn’t mean bring it up at every turn. But the company has to acknowledge that the recovery process is still happening.

“Our guests should shop with confidence,” said Rick Gomez, Target senior vice president of brand and category marketing. They will if Target gives them a reason to because, c’mon, who doesn’t want to love Tar-zhay.