Taking a page from those addictive online quizzes, Target is making back-to-school shopping personal with its "Made for U College Styler."
The design quiz tool selects dorm room essentials meant to fit your personality by drawing on your Facebook and Instagram engagement. From "chic geek" to "earthy explorer," each personality type leads to an interactive dorm design followed by a curated list of recommendations for bedding, storage and decorations.
"This tool is really a result of thinking – 'College students, they live online, they're digitally engaged – and so how can we bring a tool that helps them create this personalized dorm room experience that delivers both the décor but also the small-space living solutions?'" said Lee Henderson, public relations manager for Target.
On Instagram, the styling tool tries to identify colors that a user continuously posts to better understand that person's interest. For example, a person adding pictures with a lot of blues and greens may spend a lot of time outdoors. However, on Facebook, the application searches a user's "likes" to aggregate results that match the pre-identified interests.
Users can also share their results with their roommate to see if their styles match, as well as organize what each person should bring to avoid showing up with duplicate items.
Target hopes the styling tool helps alleviate some stress when preparing for college by focusing on customization. Partnering with Toronto-based home brand Umbra and crowdsourcing site Betterific in 2014, the retailer aims to create tailored products in line with customer recommendations.
"We really looked at the opportunity of partnering with Betterific and Umbra as a way to hear directly from those students on what products would help solve those small pain-point living issues," Mr. Henderson said.
Target found 180 user-generated ideas from Betterific surrounding themes like personalization, privacy, roommate communication and small-space living. From there, the company worked with students from the University of Minnesota to narrow it down to eight products, like twin sheets with pockets to accommodate a lofted bed, now offered in the 2015 collection.
Similarly, the 2015 "Loft by Umbra" collection features 10 products for small-space living.
For Target, the back-to-school season is a highly-popular sales time, second only to holiday shopping. The retailer has rolled out six spots starring social media influencers to kickstart the back-to-school trend.
"It's a really important season at Target, said Mr. Henderson. This new program "really allows us to connect to those millennial guests."