What Is Target? (What Is It Known For, How Is It Different, Type Of Store + More)

The 1990s and 2000s ushered in an era of unprecedented expansion in the retail sector, with options like Walmart and Amazon becoming household names.

One other entry into the mega-mart race was Target, now the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, with over 1,900 stores. But what is Target? What can you expect when you pass under the huge bullseye and in through those doors? Here’s what you need to know!

What Is Target?

Target is a national chain of big-box retail stores, with some smaller formats available, mainly near college campuses and urban settings as of 2024. Though competitive with Walmart, Target’s key market varies slightly by gender and household income, a noticeable difference when comparing the two brands’ store formatting and staging and pricing.

Let’s go over what Target is most known for, how it differentiates itself from the stiff competition in the discount retailer sector, what type of store Target is, and much more!

What Type Of Store Is Target?

Target stores fall under the discount department store category, and the big-box general merchandiser label can be applied as well.

Also, Target can be described as a hypermarket since many locations sell groceries and general merchandise.

However, there are a few different kinds of Target stores, too.

For example, the most common is the big-box/hypermarket format, where groceries reside on one side, and all the merchandise is on the other.

At about 145,000 square feet, the large-scale Targets are about 40,000 square feet smaller than your average Walmart Supercenter.

But, Target recognized an opportunity in areas that couldn’t quite fit the big-box store but had the desire (and cash flow) for its goods.

To that end, the company has added smaller, 12,000-18,000 square feet stores, perfect for urban settings or college campuses.

While only a fraction of the size of its full stores, these smaller-scale locations offer urbanites and college kids Target’s affordable line of goods.

What Is Target Most Known For?

Target, as a brand, has done an admirable job of growing an obsessed fanbase.

That said, here are a few of the things for which Target is most known:

Beauty Department

Along with major beauty labels, Target carries store-exclusives like Sonia Kashuk.

Further, the retailer recently partnered with beauty-powerhouse Ulta, expanding its beauty offerings as never before.

Home Goods

At Target, customers can find upscale yet affordable home goods, like those from the Threshold houseware line.

Up & Up

Up & Up is Target’s store brand, much like Walmart has Great Value. That said, Target’s store brand is more affordably priced than other brand names without compromising quality.


Although Target primarily sells its store-branded apparel, it also offers clothing lines like Goodfellow and A New Day.

Additionally, the company has collaborated with famous brands and high-end designers, like the crazed Lilly Pulitzer x Target event in 2015.

How Is Target Different?

How Is Target Different?

Target is so popular and successful because, like other companies of its caliber, its brand and the target audience to which it markets its brand are well-defined.

While Target competes with Walmart, it understands its ideal customer is a different person from Walmart’s.

According to Business Insider, Target’s typical customer is a woman aged 39, white, married, and maintains a household income of $80,000.

More broadly, Target markets toward women as young as 18 (you can see it in its dreamy, aspirational dorm designs every year) and as old as their mid-40s.

That said, this is fundamentally different from Walmart’s target customer, who is similarly female and upper-middle-class but skews slightly older into her late 40s and 50s.

Moreover, Walmart speaks to a shopper looking for the very best prices on things because even in a comfortable financial situation, with a family, every dollar counts.

Target, instead, speaks to a shopper with a slightly different mindset and willingness to spend.

What Can You Buy At Target?

Target’s regular stores feature a full grocery store on one side and general merchandise on the other.

For example, those general merchandise categories include:

  • Apparel for men, women, and children
  • Shoes for the whole family
  • Baby necessities
  • Home goods/décor
  • Furniture
  • Kitchen and dining
  • Toys
  • Electronics
  • Video Games
  • Movies, music, and books
  • Sports and outdoors
  • Beauty
  • Personal care/hygiene
  • Pets
  • Health
  • Luggage
  • School and office supplies
  • Party supplies
  • Bullseye Playground (a.k.a., the dollar/discount finds)

Also, the Bullseye Playground goods are worth an extra mention because the inventory frequently changes (and often seasonally).

What Does Target Sell The Most Of?

In 2020, Target’s most profitable departments were beauty – no surprise there – and household essentials, which got grouped together.

Indeed, while these numbers may have been inflated somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic, this grouping has been the top seller for four years running.

Also, Target has positioned its beauty department as a rival to fancier ones, but with more approachability.

Is Target A Brand Or Discount Store?

Like its competition, Walmart, Target is both a store for name brands and a discount store, with many off-brand (or store brand) products of equal quality but a lesser price.

That said, Target does occupy an interesting niche in the market as a slightly more “upscale” discount retailer.

Is Target Expensive?

Target remains a discount store compared to actual department stores like Macy’s, but Target’s products come in at a higher price than Walmart.

But, there is some give and take on the pricing.

For example, a six-pack of mega roll toilet paper at Target costs $4.99, while a similar product costs $5.98 at Walmart.

On the other hand, Walmart provides several household essentials (cleaning products, paper plates) at far lower prices than Target.

So, if getting the very lowest price on everything you need during your shopping trip is important, it’s probably best to skip Target.

But, if you can afford to pay a little more and buying a few “fun” beauty items or accessories for the home won’t break the bank, Target is a delightful destination.

If you want to know more, you can also see our posts on the biggest Target competitors, Target slogan, and Target’s target market.


Target has defined its niche as your more upscale discount retailer and the place to go if you love trying new makeup or you need to stock up on household essentials.

So, while its appeal is focused mainly on Millennial moms, there’s enough variety in this big-box type of store to offer something for everyone. 

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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