* CNET reviews placed in Target stores and on Target.com
* Target trying to simplify electronics purchases
* New electronics likely to boost interest in category
By Jessica Wohl
Nov 8 Target Corp is bringing reviews
from tech news website CNET into its aisles in time for the
holiday season as it tries to stand out from a crowd of stores
and websites selling a mix of new gadgets.
The partnership between the discount chain and CNET, a
website popular with gadget enthusiasts and known for its
consumer electronics reviews, kicks off this week after a small
test this spring showed that Target's shoppers appreciated
getting third-party reviews in stores.
Shoppers will see reviews of 28 products in Target stores
and reviews of 300 products on Target's website. In stores,
televisions on display will also occasionally show videos
featuring CNET Editors' Picks for Target and how-to videos.
The partnership marks a bit of a shift for CNET, whose
reviews are sometimes syndicated to places such as retailers'
websites but until now were not on store shelves.
"The goal of this is to really make purchase decisions
easier during the holidays because this is the time when a lot
of people may not be purchasing for themselves," said Lindsey
Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews.
A survey released this week by BDO USA found that 62 percent
of retail chief marketing officers said consumer electronics
would be the strongest selling category this holiday season. The
same amount, 62 percent, said that the category would see the
most discounts and promotions during the holiday season, BDO,
the assurance, tax and financial consulting firm, said.
A wide variety of products are hitting stores in time for
the busy holiday season, including updated Apple Inc
iPads, iPhone and iPods, the new iPad mini, Nintendo's
Wii U, Microsoft Corp's Windows 8 software and Surface
tablets, Google Inc's Nexus tablets and new Samsung
tablets and phones.
However, the growing practice of using stores to look at
items and then buy them at lower prices elsewhere, known as
showrooming, has added pressure to stores.
"If you don't really know what you want, (and) you want the
broadest selection, then you go to an electronics store," said
Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD
Group. "If you have a better idea about what you want and you've
narrowed it down then you probably have some more choices in
terms of what type of store you want to go to."
For Target, which says that it edits the selection of goods
to help make decisions easier for its shoppers, offering reviews
may help seal the deal in the stores or push shoppers scanning
QR codes to its website, where more reviews will be available.
In May, Target tested putting CNET reviews near a handful of
items such as cameras and televisions, and shoppers "definitely
valued having not only a consumer review but the expert review
as well," Scott Nygaard, Target's vice president of electronics,
Now, 28 items - ranging in price from $19.99 to $1,399.99 -
will be highlighted with 5-star reviews that CNET writes.
Selections were made based on the products' ease of use, style
and value, CNET and Target said.
The products selected include cameras from Samsung, Nikon,
Fujifilm and Canon. Barnes & Noble Inc's Nook Simple
Touch with GlowLight was chosen as the best e-reader for reading
in the dark, while Apple's iPad was named the best tablet.
Nintendo's DSi was picked as the best gaming system for
under $100 and Sony's PS3 was named the best all-in-one gaming
and entertainment system.
"We've got an edited assortment already that we think helps
simplify and we're hoping this is just a way for the guest to
save time, money and have some research done for them,
especially at holiday time where we know they're already doing
additional research from a review standpoint," said Nygaard.
Target will also get some added exposure, as its weekly
circular promotions will be featured in Marketplace section of
Manufacturers are aware of the partnership between Target
and CNET but had no input on the reviews, Nygaard said.
The holiday quarter is the biggest time of year for Target's
Sales of hardlines, which include everything from videogames
to gadgets and toys, accounted for 19 percent of Target's sales
in 2011, down from 20 percent in 2010 and 22 percent in 2009.