Chaotic Lilly Pulitzer launch was bad business
As I write this, I come to you all Lilly-less.
My outfit is not bursting with bright colors or detailed embroidery, nor is it even remotely emulating the class and poise that a Lilly Pulitzer shift dress represents. Nope. I'm wearing a dress I got for $10 at Ross.
Instead of waking up at 5 a.m. and camping outside Target Sunday morning for the launch of its Lilly Pulitzer line, I decided to do what most normal humans do at 5 a.m. — sleep. Oh, and I didn't stay up until 3 a.m. waiting for the website to launch either. Yeah, I was definitely sleeping then, too.
While I would have loved to purchase a $38 Lilly Pulitzer dress or one of the many fabulous products Target released, there was no way I was going to wage war to get my hands on one.
By Sunday morning around 9 a.m., my Instagram and Facebook feed was full of posts about the failed, or successful depending on your stance, Lilly Pulitzer launch. For those who are not familiar with Lilly Pulitzer, it's a brand that originated in South Florida that sells bright-colored dresses modeled after those that were popular in the 1960s.
They're also very expensive.
The typical Lilly shift dress will run you anywhere between $130 and $300.
Needless to say, on a journalist's salary, I do not currently own one because $300 is a car payment, or 150 frozen dinners or 10 tanks of gas. When Target announced they would be selling these posh, pricey dresses for $38, preppy gals across the nation swooned. Finally, some of us could actually afford it without taking out a second mortgage on our homes.
But when Target stocked its racks with just a few dresses in each size and just a few of each other product, chaos ensued. Lines of more than 150 Lilly fans wrapped around local Targets, creating what some have coined "Preppy Black Friday."
Customers, mostly females, flooded into the store grabbing any and everything they could. A Target worker told me that some customers were walking up to the rack, picking up all the dresses and tossing them in their carts. He also mentioned you had to watch your back because people were stealing things out of each other's carts.
So this is the classy, sophisticated demographic of people Lilly Pulitzer supposedly attracts?
So here's where Target went wrong. I get it. The basics of supply and demand are very obvious here. By limiting supply, Target automatically increased the value of the $38 Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses., thus ensuring that the brand is still considered "luxury." However, instead of cashing in on that value, they handed it to the consumer. Women weren't there to buy a dress for themselves, they were there to sell them on eBay for $150 and make a profit.
Meanwhile, Target sells out and only makes a fixed amount of money. If they had more supply to meet the very evident demand, think of how much revenue would be in the hands of the Target corporation instead of ruthless eBay trolls?
This just isn't good business. When the demand is there, you either increase supply or you automatically increase the value of the product you're selling. The Target strategy just doesn't compute.
According to USA Today, Target has no intention of restocking its Lilly Pulitzer collection, thus perpetuating the issue. Additionally, it has not released any kind of mea culpa message about the hoard of disappointment it created across the nation, nor has the company offered any kind of resolution.
While I don't believe this will hurt Target as a whole (let's be real, we'll keep shopping), it doesn't exactly leave a very good taste in our mouth when it comes to Lilly Pulitzer. Either Lilly or Target needs to step up here and take the bull by the horns. Stop handing the money to your consumers. Be smart, increase the supply and "don't be the victim of your own success," as Fortune puts it.
Until then, I suppose the rest of us young and hungry wannabe prepsters will have to settle for that $10 dress from Ross.
Jessica J. Saggio is the Managing Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaJSaggio or email her at JessicaS@KnightNewspapers.com.