Michael Graves

Branding partnerships put consumers — and retailers — in the mood to buy. By Janet Pinkerton One-off brand licenses for consumer electronics are common, but ongoing relationships between licensee and licenser are on the rise, as electronics manufacturers and retailers seek to differentiate their products amid commodity pricing and a consolidated retail base. Some companies, like Gemini Industries and Polyconcept USA, built a portfolio of brands as their core business model over time. Gemini's most recent coup occured with Wiley Publishing's "For Dummies" line, aimed at demystifying digital technology. Polyconcept has built a branded line-up of novelty and nostalgic products priced to compete with

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—A bouncing smiley face would never work for Target. This mass merchandizer wants a different image, one that says value with class. With an upscale, hipper advertising campaign, Target aims for an upscale customer. "The typical Target customer would be a young, educated family with children, with a higher-than-average income," Steve Birke, Target's vice president, general merchandise manager, said. The store lures its customers, or guests, with clean, brightly lit stores and "by constantly challenging and reinventing ourselves with product lines," Birke said. It's Target's ability to differentiate itself from other mass merchandisers that makes it stand out and gives it its spark.

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