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Will Vineyard Vines' Target Deal Rejuvenate The Brand

Consumers greeted the February  news of Target Corp.’s latest partnership with Vineyard Vines with enthusiasm, while some retail experts expressed concern for Vineyard Vine’s ability to scale to meet demand.
Target and Vineyard Vines announced a limited-edition collaboration that will include more than pieces consisting of apparel, accessories, pets, swim, and outdoor goods, such as tableware and games. Prices will range from $-$, with most items under $, the company’s press release stated.
“Vineyard Vines is a brand that our guests know and love, and one that exemplifies our shared sense of optimism and joy through their use of bold colors and prints,” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Target.
Founded in by brothers Shep and Ian Murray, Vineyard Vines has grown to become an American lifestyle brand. It was inspired by summers the brothers spent on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, hence the smiling pink whale as its brand logo.
“I am very excited for the line,” said Mary Ellen Naugle of Wilmington, Delaware. “I am hoping that the prices will be more accessible to those who normally can’t go out and pay $ for a polo shirt. I also hope the selection is a good one and does not sell out immediately,” she said, recalling the Target-Lilly Pulitzer partnership of . Then, shoppers lined up before stores opened in the hopes of snagging some Lilly clothing and accessories and within minutes, the racks were completely bare and the online inventory sold out.
Supply didn’t come close to meeting demand.
A History of Partnerships
Target as a company has grown through its design partnerships. Over nearly years, collaborations with brands like TOMS, Joanna and Chip Gaines Hearth & Hand, and Marimekko, for example, have kept shoppers coming back for the retailer’s cheap chic offerings.
But the Lilly Pulitzer partnership left Target customers wanting more—a lot more.
More recently there was the Target-Hunter partnership of . Known for its popular celebrity-approved wellies aka rain boots, shoppers were excited for the chance to purchase the $ rain boots for a mere $ through Target. However, due to “production issues,” Target first delayed and then canceled the tall boots altogether, leaving customers disappointed.
Hunter had other products available for sale within Target, but its boots were atop customers’ most-wanted list.
Its partnership with Missoni for a limited collection was one of the first of its kind for Target, and, then too, as expected, demand exceeded supply.
Finding the Demand Sweet Spot
So how can Vineyard Vines avoid the supply-demand conundrum that has vexed its predecessors? It turns out, it s not up to them. Target manages production of all of its partnerships, a Target spokesperson confirmed.
“Target doesn’t have a great track record with one-off deals like Missoni,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of RSR Research and fellow Forbesm contributor. “They also don’t have the finest demand forecasting system.”
The company’s past problems originated with its buying. Target has repeatedly underestimated demand for its partners’ products. This time, “Let’s see if Target has solved its demand forecasting problems,” says Rosenblum. “Will it buy too little? Too much? How will Target keep the product from ending up on eBay?”
The Freeport, Maine Vineyard Vines outlet is well-stocked with its popular t-shirts in this August... + photo.
Marcia Layton Turner
The partnership comes at a time when Vineyard Vines’ popularity as a brand may be waning with Gen Z customers. The appearance of its inventory in stores like Marshall’s, which deals in off-price merchandise, such as excess inventory, returns, or end-of-season leftovers, suggests that the formerly hard-to-find brand’s exclusivity may not be benefiting from its near-ubiquity. So does the Target deal make sense?
Given that % of the population has never heard of Vineyard Vines, according to branding tracker YouGov, it very well may be.
We’ll know more on May , , when the Vineyard Vines merchandise is available for purchase. 
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