July 15, 2013, 2:31 PM

Target features YouTube stars in its back-to-school promotion

The retailer aims to link online and offline shopping.

Lead Photo

In a concept that brings together elements of the TV show “Big Brother,” online shopping and YouTube, Target Corp. today launched a live feed on BullseyeUniversity.com featuring five performers—each of whom appears in popular YouTube videos, such as Tessa Violet whose Meekakitty YouTube channel has more than 943,000 subscribers and whose videos have been viewed nearly 65 million times—in a dorm the retailer created on a Los Angeles set. The live feed will run through Thursday.

Each performer has his own dorm room and a shopper can buy items he sees in the dorm by mousing over items and clicking to add them to his cart. A shopper can also live chat with the performers on the site and view online events ranging from music performances to workouts.

Target says that it is also featuring “Live Dorm Rooms”—glass-enclosed Target-furnished dorm rooms occupied by one of the retailer’s college-age employees—on the quads of Texas A&M University, Auburn, Georgia State, George Mason and UCLA. Students can visit the Live Dorm Room to win prizes and browse the products featured in the room. They can also scan QR codes on the products to buy them online via their mobile devices. QR, or Quick Response, codes are two-dimensional bar codes that consumers scan with a mobile device to link to web sites for such information as product details or promotional information.

On Target.com/college, the retailer features its uStyler tool that enables shoppers to mix and match items from the site to see how they would look in a dorm room. The retailer encourages students to share their designs with their roommates and friends via Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Target’s college page on its site and mobile app also features a checklist to help college students figure out what they need for their dorm rooms. The checklist’s recommendations vary based on the student’s living situation, such as if she is living in a dorm or an apartment. A shopper can add items to the checklist as she browses the site; she also can add products to an online shopping cart, print a shopping list at home or on an in-store kiosk, or send the list to a mobile device so she can have it when she walks into a Target store.

The initiatives aim to help Target capture college students’ attention, says a spokeswoman for the retailer, which is No. 18 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide.

“We want to reach college students in the digital space, which is where they are,” she says. “It’s important that we find ways to make Target relevant to them.”

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