- There’s a popular retail chain called Target that can be found across Australia – and it’s unrelated to the famous Target brand in the US.
- Despite having the same name and nearly identical logos, the two Targets on opposite hemispheres are actually owned by completely separate companies.
- As an American living in Australia, I wanted to see how Target Australia stacked up to my local Target in the States.
- To my surprise, the Australian Target was even better to shop at than the ones in the US.
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With its wide array of products, from electronics to clothing to home goods, consumers flock to Target like birds migrating for the winter.
Few Americans, however, know that this retail chain has a doppelganger in the land Down Under. An Australian chain called Target touts the same name and a similar slogan and red bulls-eye logo as its American counterpart, yet the two are owned by two completely different companies, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune.
While the two stores have numerous similarities, there is “no relationship” between them, a Target spokesperson told the Star Tribune. The 300 Targets in Australia, the first of which opened in 1926, are owned by Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers Limited. Meanwhile, the American stores with the same name are owned by the Minnesota-based Target Corporation.
While the operation of both retailers under the same name and logo would seemingly spark a trademark dispute, no large-scale legal battle has taken place between the two. One intellectual property lawyer speculated to the Star Tribune that the two may have an informal agreement over their similar identities.
As an American undergraduate student studying abroad in Sydney, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I recently ventured to the nearest Target in Sydney to see how the Australian retailer stacked up to the one in America.
I was surprised to find that I liked Australian Target even more than Targets in the US.
Here’s what it was like inside.
Only three Target stores are located within the vicinity of Sydney, one of which is within Broadway Shopping Centre. Only a minute’s walk from the University of Sydney’s campus, this store is perfectly placed to catch the foot traffic of thousands of students.
Inside the shopping centre, I immediately spotted the all-too-familiar red and white Target logo. Aside from the font of its sign being slightly different than in the US and an additional period at the end of “Target,” the branding of the store was virtually identical.
With one glance at the store, I was immediately thrown back in time to when Targets in the States merely sold clothes and home goods. I was surprised by the lack of a grocery section and the small size of the store.
The store was broken down into familiar sections, with sizable signs for each — women’s, men’s, kids, beauty, home, toys, electronics, and books. There seemed to be a strong emphasis on the women’s section, as it made up around 40% of the store and was placed in the centre of the shopping floor.
The women’s section itself was broken down further, with different areas designated for activewear, casual wear, undergarments, and new releases.
The men’s section mostly contained graphic T-shirts and casual button-down tops. It was the least developed section of the store, lacking in a diverse set of style options, unlike the women’s section.
Shoes were split between seasons, and this section truly encompassed all options for footwear. The rows upon rows of shoes were also reasonably priced, thus appealing to my strict student budget.
The kids section was broken down between infant and young children, much like the women’s section. A plethora of options were available to any parent trying to find the latest trends for the playground.
The beauty section was not as developed as they are at US Targets, which are known for their illuminated cosmetic and bath sections. Despite this lack of dramatic flair, there were various forms of cosmetics and spa products available to customers.
An interior designer would have felt right at home within the home section.
Both the American and Australian Target stores offer bargains to its customers through clearance items. The clearance rack was arranged very similarly to how it would be in the US. Within the section, there was a small area set aside for items being sold at even further discounts.
The prices at the Australian Target were surprisingly fair in comparison to American Target prices. For example, one pair of pants in the women’s section cost $US10, or around $US6.85 in US dollars, while the item would normally set you back over $US15 in the US.
Wandering through the back of the store, I found that the non-clothing sections were very cramped and didn’t offer many options. In the electronics section, one could buy a SIM card, a Google Home, and a small number of other items.
For larger electronic items like TVs and video games, the American Target back wall is normally lined with options. In Australia, however, there were few options for televisions and no Apple or Android products in sight.
The books section looked more familiar to its US counterpart. Most of the options appealed to younger readers, as in the US, and there were very few novels available for older audiences.
Targets in the US also boast extensive selections of greeting cards. With its seemingly endless rows, there is truly a card for every occasion. This same enthusiasm for colourful card stock isn’t exactly mirrored in Australian Target, where only one row of cards was dedicated to kids’ birthdays.
Upon a closer look at the different items for sale, there were a few high-quality goods up available purchase. For example, a bamboo and cotton sheet set will set you back about $US65 in US dollars.
I found a customer service counter at the back of the store, and the employees there were very polite and helpful. In comparison to the US — where these stations are normally crowded or there is no employee in sight — this was a breath of fresh air.
Free WiFi was also available to customers as they perused the store. With the click of a button, I was connected to high-speed internet, a luxury that’s not always present in America.
By the WiFi information I found a convenient price-check machine where customers could scan their items and confirm their prices. These are very popular in the US, and I was comforted at this familiar sight instead of having to rely on a calculator or my own maths skills.
My primary goal during my shopping adventure was to find a piece of clothing that would protect me from the harsh Sydney wind. I first found a pair of thick boot socks, priced at the equivalent of $US5.48 in the States. These were intriguing, but I decided to walk back through the women’s section to find something warmer.
When I returned, I immediately found items from the popular Italian brand Fila. The brand has had a resurgence in the US of late, and Australia too — it’s very easy to spot Fila shoes, clothing, and backpacks across Sydney.
A large sweatshirt would cost me around $US24, which I found to be cheaper than stores would offer in the US. I kept this item in mind as I strolled over to the legwear area.
In addition to Fila, I found plenty of items from the popular Australian brand Zanerobe.
Target also had its own in-house clothing lines, just like American stores would. I came across a pair of thicker leggings in my size that would only cost $US6.80. I normally buy my leggings at Target back home in the US, so I was glad to see I could do the same here.
As I made my way to the checkout line, I noticed a peculiar cultural difference. In Australia, Father’s Day is celebrated in September rather than in June. Nonetheless, there was an excellent display sure to make any dad proud.
The checkout line looked very similar to that in the US. The traditional lines of candy and gum taunted customers as they waited to pay for their items — I was barely able to resist buying a pack of Mentos.
The same temptation awaited customers in the form of cold drinks and tabloids closer to the front of the line. This is another marketing tactic that links the two Targets across the ocean.
When I reached the front of the line, I found self-checkout kiosks, where customers could pay by cash or card.
After choosing my kiosk, I paid for my item just like I would in the US. A kind voice instructed me through the payment process, a stark contrast from the harsh tone I’ve gotten from the machines in the US. If you’ve been scolded before for neglecting to place your item in the bagging area, you know what I mean.
After I was kindly told to “have a wonderful day” by the machine, I exited the store, where an employee asked to check my receipt. I was surprised since in the US, this practice isn’t widespread at Targets — just in larger department stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
As a whole, Target Australia was not drastically different than the stores in the US. Though there was a lack of a grocery section and less variety of choices, I still preferred my experience in Target Australia to my Target experiences in the US.
Target Australia has friendlier staff, lower prices, and an easily navigable layout, whereas Targets in the US are often crowded, hard to navigate, and more expensive. For me, Target Australia stands as the clear winner.
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