Brand Experience Brief: C9

(Check out a new and interesting retail concept in this latest Brand Experience Brief.)

C9 is Target‘s new active apparel store at San Francisco’s Metreon center. Featuring apparel from Champion, the store is a cross between a Target and a Gap store, and represents the company’s first move into specialty retail.  Take a look:

Brand Experience Brief: C9 (by Denise Lee Yohn) from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

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Target has a new concept called C9 that I will be sharing with you today.  C9 is an activewear store based on Targetís line of clothing from Champion.  It just opened last month at San Francisco’s Metreon Center.

The store design is a cross between a Target and a Gap.  White is the prominent color and the open spaces and fixtures are all reminiscent of the Target design ethos.  The Gap-likeness comes from the product presentations, like this leggings set-up which organizes the products by type just as Gap would organize its jeans.  Big bright images adorn the walls and there are a few fun displays like this cool bike.

Currently the C9 brand generates about a billion dollars in sales per year across Targetís stores and online, so this store is intended to build on that success.  The prices are quite reasonable (sport tanks are $25-30), the assortment which includes both womens and mens apparel is appropriate, and the products are well designed made of performance fabrics .  The store also carries gear like yoga mats and exercise balls, but no footwear.  The associates were friendly and helpful.

A few details made the experience memorable.  First, in the dressing rooms, there is a wall display that speaks to the uniqueness of San Francisco as an active city, which was a lot of fun.  Also the dressing room mirrors have a panel that you can swing forward and back which is helpful to seeing your backside.  And for your purchases the store offers a cute bright orange cloth bag for 10 cents which allows the store to comply with the city-wide ban on plastic bags while giving customers a nice reusable tote that will get C9 some attention.

C9 seems like Targetís effort to enter the growing specialty activewear retail category, as well as a move away from the big-box store format to offer a more focused concept. The store is 3,000-square-foot vs. the typical 95,000 to 135,000 square foot Target.   Speaking of Target, C9 is located adjacent to the new CityTarget at the Metreon but I was surprised to see it doesnít bear the Target name, nor feature Targetís iconic Bullseye logo.  Perhaps the company felt the Target brand would somehow detract from the special-ness of the offering but I thought it was a missed opportunity.

After all clearly this is not an upscale brand like Lululemon, but itís exactly what youíd expect from Target ñ a well-known reputable brand, good products at a great value, and a cool, uncomplicated shopping experience.

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