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Target Beta Tests Gift Registry for College Students

Retailer Is Using Social Media to Reach High School Seniors, Parents

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College-bound students can now register for sheets and towels in addition to classes.

Target College Registry
Target College Registry

Target is opening up its gift registries, once reserved for engaged couples and expecting parents, to college-bound students with a new online platform.

From detergent to dorm décor, the college registry allows students and their families to create, manage and share all the Target products they want for school.

The registry, which launched in early June, came just in time for this year's high school graduation and back-to-college seasons. Target worked on the concept for several months this year in preparation for it.

"Our college-bound guests were looking for an easy way to manage lists and share them with friends and family online," said Jenna Reck, public relations manager for Target. "When we looked at the registry experience we already offered through the Target Wedding and Target Baby registries, we quickly realized that it was the right solution."

The college registry will be accessible year-round and is geared toward students in every stage of their campus lives.

Other retailers including Bed Bath and Beyond, The Container Store and Walmart also have registries and wish lists that cater to college students, as do online shops like DormSmart.com and DormCo.com.

Target's in-house creative team is using social media to promote the registry with posts aimed at high school seniors and their parents, the most likely groups to use the service this year, according to Target. The retailer hopes parents will push their kids to register for the service.

"The parents play such a big part in the purchasing decision," said Ms. Reck. "We want to reach them, so they can get their children to sign up."

Target declined to provide the exact number of users, but said that thousands have registered since the site launched earlier this month despite putting little marketing support behind it. Target will include the registry in its back-to-college efforts later this summer, and plans to seek additional ways to market the service during the year.

The college registry is available nationwide through Target's website. There is no in-store support; the retailer says nearly one-third of its registrants, including wedding and baby, are "online-only and never manage or add items at an in-store kiosk." College students are even less likely to use the service in stores, Target says, because they consume most of their media online.

Target may later integrate the registry into its mobile app, which is popular among online shoppers. The registry is still labeled as being in the beta stage to let consumers know that it's a new service that will evolve as Target receives feedback.

Starting in July, when the back-to-college season is in full swing, Target will ramp up its efforts with items on promotion and a dorm décor roll out. It may also expand its marketing to reach additional college students.

Registry users receive special discounts -- 10% off the remaining items on registries that students wish to buy themselves, and $10 off a $50 home purchase when signing up for a registry. The latter is part of a back-to-college promotion.

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