For first-time college students unsure of how to furnish their new home, Target is guessing that their social media accounts might hold a clue.
With the back-to-school shopping season fast approaching, the retailer launched a new online platform on Wednesday that plots out how students might decorate their dorm based on a simple quiz and the contents of their Facebook and Instagram profiles.
The tool looks at your Facebook likes and interests and the color palettes of the photos on your Instagram, then assembles a mock-up of a potential dorm room with an assortment of some of the 400 products in the system’s catalog. It also lets students swap results with a future roommate to fit together both halves of the living space.
The system works by matching keywords and image hues to a string of tags associated with each product.
Target is hoping the promotion will appeal to digitally plugged-in millennials (or post-millennials) who have grown up saturated with social media, curating the images they like.
To cater to the young audience, the company teamed with trendy design startup Umbra and crowdsourcing site Betterific to open-source product ideas and let students at design universities make their own small line of household decor.
“Our guests are increasingly millennial, increasingly multi-cultural and increasingly digitally savvy,” said Rick Gomez, Target’s vice president of brand & category marketing. “As a result, we’re evolving our marketing to reach our guest where our guest is, and that is increasingly on their mobile.”
The library of products was chosen with a shoestring budget and tight quarters in mind, Gomez said. As far as preferred styles, the younger crowd tends to go heavy on simple black and white with a lot of lighter colors also in the mix, he said.
College shoppers are big business for Target, according to Gomez. The back-to-school season is typically second only to the holidays as its customers’ biggest spending spree of the year.
With online retailers like Amazon bearing down, Target is looking to projects like these to up its tech prowess. Earlier this month, it launched an experimental space in San Francisco to showcase and sell Internet-connected household devices. The company is also set on rolling out Apple Pay in its stores, but it has been held back by a disastrous 2013 data breach.