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Ulrich to step down in May as Target chief executive officer

BY Jim Frederick

MINNEAPOLIS Target Corp. chairman Bob Ulrich revealed today he will retire as chief executive officer May 1, but will remain the company’s chairman. Succeeding him as chief executive officer will be Target president Gregg Steinhafel.

Ulrich is a veteran of the upscale discount giant, and has served as chairman and chief executive officer since 1994. He began his career as a merchandising trainee in 1967 at Dayton’s, a former division of Target, and subsequently held a variety of positions in stores and merchandising. He was named president of Target Stores in 1984 and became chairman and chief executive officer of the division in 1987.

Under Ulrich’s leadership, Target has nearly tripled its sales and U.S. store presence—it now operates 1,591 stores in 47 states—and has increased its net earnings nearly nine-fold. Equally important, the company has also succeeded in establishing a clear and undisputed market niche as the nation’s premier upscale mass merchandise chain, and one of its largest pharmacy operators.

“During Bob’s tenure, Target has achieved outstanding financial results and become one of the most recognized and valuable brands in the world,” said Steinhafel. “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from one of the best leaders in the retail industry.”

Jim Johnson, vice chairman of Target’s executive committee, credited Ulrich for “exceptional leadership and the remarkable performance Target has achieved under his direction.”

Ulrich, who turns 65 in April, will remain as chairman through the end of fiscal 2008.

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IRI study shows half of consumers consider environmental issues when shopping

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Approximately 50 percent of U.S. consumers consider at least one “green” factor in selecting consumer packaged goods items and choosing where to shop for those products, according to a recently released survey conducted by Information Resources, Inc.

The 22,000 U.S. consumers surveyed were asked to determine the impact of four key sustainability features in their product and store selection—organic, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly packaging and fair treatment of employees and suppliers. One-fifth of those surveyed were determined to be “sustainability driven,” taking at least two sustainability factors into account when making their selections.

“Sustainability has evolved from a niche segment concern to a major factor influencing purchasing and shopping behavior across a sizable consumer base,” stated Andrew Salzman, IRI chief marketing officer. “Our survey indicates that consumers are focused more and more on the social and environmental impact of their CPG purchases, creating a viable and growing U.S. market for sustainable products and packaging with the potential to mirror well-developed markets in Europe and Japan. U.S. retailers and manufacturers are beginning to respond to that demand,” he said.

“Consumers aged 55 and older are the real driving force behind this expansion,” Salzman added. “Generally, with the time to seek out specialty items and the resources to afford premium priced products, aging consumers are a critical target market today. As sustainable products and packaging become more widely available, we anticipate that the market will expand across consumer segments.”

Among the IRI results highlighting the evolution of sustainability factors in consumer decision-making:

  • Approximately 30 percent look for eco-friendly products and packaging in their brand selection;
  • Up to one-quarter of those surveyed consider fair trade practices along with eco-friendly or organic designations in selecting a shopping destination;
  • Nearly 40 percent of consumers search specifically for organic products

“Currently, organic products are scoring extremely well with consumers,” says Salzman. “Benefiting from the winning combination of a ‘better for you’ association and a ‘better for the environment’ attribute, the organic designation has moved to the front of consumer consciousness.”

Once dominated by niche manufacturers and specialty retailers, CPG industry leaders now maintain a sizable stake in the organics market and with leading retailers. This includes Safeway and Kroger with their highly successful organic private label lines. Several leading manufacturers are also beginning to offer organic versions of favorite products, such as Kraft’s organic Wheat Thins and Chips Ahoy.

Among non-food items, the IRI study highlights replacement of chemical-based items with eco-friendly products as an emerging sustainability category. One example is green laundry detergent. Though currently just 2 percent of the total detergent market, the growing demand for biodegradable, non-toxic and plant-based products is reflected in a 66 percent increase in green product sales during the past year within a category that has overall flat sales.

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Kimberly-Clark calls new Cottonelle campaign its largest non-traditional marketing drive ever

BY Tara Smith

DALLAS Kimberly-Clark Corp. on Monday announced it is launching the largest non-traditional marketing campaign in its history to help drive further growth for its Cottonelle brand.

The campaign, “Be Kind to Your Behind,” debuts this month and integrates experiential marketing, branded Web sites, Internet advertising, bus and train station ads, in-store promotions, redesigned product packaging and public relations activities, as well as traditional TV and print advertising. In addition, the campaign will use the iconic Cottonelle puppy across all communications channels to embody the brand’s key benefits of soft, soothing comfort.

The campaign kicked off Monday in the United States and Canada and in March the company will roll out the Cottonelle Comfort Haven. The Haven features a puppy-themed bus that will travel to major metropolitan cities across North America with four themed comfort areas offering consumers access to massages, yoga and a sweepstakes promotion. Kimberly-Clark plans to launch the “Be Kind to Your Behind” campaign throughout Europe in the summer of 2008 under multiple brands, also using the iconic puppy.

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