Apple and Target just announced perhaps the most brilliant brand partnership in history. It’s bad news for Best Buy


On the surface, Apple and Target look quite different. One is the most valuable company in the world and manufactures some of the most iconic products in the world. The other is the eighth largest retailer and is known for fashion house brands, which sell everything from paper towels to home decor, children’s clothing and electronics.

Except, when you look a little closer, Apple and Target have a lot in common. Both are brands known to their highly loyal customers, and both have a “cool” factor that makes them the envy of their retail competitors.

It’s also worth noting that both became destination shopping experiences under the leadership of the same retail guru, Ron Johnson, who was head of merchandising at Target before launching Apple’s iconic retail stores.

That’s one of the reasons I think Thursday’s announcement that the two companies will partner to open what they describe as an “elevated Apple shopping experience” in 17 of Target’s stores is so exciting. The retailer will create a dedicated space to highlight iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, AirPods, HomePods and Apple TV, said in a blog post.

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This isn’t the first time Target has launched brand-specific shopping areas within its stores. Previously, the retailer dedicated space to miniature Disney stores. It’s not the first time for Apple either. The iPhone maker already has its own retail experience in Best Buy stores. In fact, it’s for Best Buy that this could be the worst news.

Before we get to that, it’s worth looking into why this is such a smart association. Here’s the thing: Apple is not an electronics company so much as a lifestyle company. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Apple doesn’t sell iPhones and iPads, it sells an experience. Sure, it’s possible because the company is pretty good at making tech, but that’s not what Apple is really selling.

The main thing Apple sells is the way that your iPhone, your HomePod, and your Mac just work, and they work together. That is why people pay more for the products and services of the company. Despite the fact that the things it does have many competitors, hardly any come close to matching the overall experience.

The goal is essentially the same. There are less expensive places to get paper towels, including Target’s bigger competitors, Walmart, and Amazon.com. Both retailers also offer a lot more product options, but no one gets excited about going to Walmart like Target does.

I wrote to him before we all started staying home that at our house, a trip to Target is a perfectly acceptable date night. You know, when people used to have date nights.

The point, however, is that it is a place where people like to shop. In that sense, there is a lot of overlap in the type of customers that both companies are trying to attract.

That brings us back to Best Buy.

Best Buy is the logical place to go if you are looking for a computer or smartphone or any of the other devices it sells, such as televisions or refrigerators. But remember, Apple isn’t just trying to sell computers or smartphones.

This is why you went to the trouble of building your own retail stores in the first place. You want the experience of buying an iPhone to be as similar as possible to using an iPhone. But there are only a limited number of Apple Stores, compared to Target’s 1,800 locations in the US This partnership allows Apple to expand that experience to many more people who may never walk into an Apple Store or Best Buy.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the products Apple plans to sell at its Target locations accounted for nearly 80 percent of Apple’s revenue in the last quarter. And each of them is a lifestyle product.

People who shop at an electronics store are looking to buy electronics. People who shop at Target are looking to buy a lifestyle. Those are the people Apple wants to reach.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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