How Target's new loyalty program could change family shopping habits

The company also announced it will hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers for the busy holiday shopping season.
Image: Target
A Target store is seen in the Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 14, 2017.Brendan McDermid / Reuters file

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By Alyssa Newcomb

Target is launching a new loyalty program nationwide in October in an aim to reward its most fervent customers and reel in shoppers just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company also announced Tuesday it will hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers, outstripping last year's hiring of 120,000 part-time staff. Seasonal employees will earn at least $13 an hour, and receive a discount of between 10 and 20 percent on store purchases.

The new loyalty program, called Target Circle, will be available to customers in the United States beginning Oct. 6. Target is launching the new initiative after a successful 18-month test in six cities, that included two million subscribers.

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Rick Gomez, Target’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement that Target Circle was developed by working “directly with guests...the program includes the benefits and perks they told us were most important to them.”

The extra perks include earning 1 percent on Target purchases, early access to sales, personalized deals, birthday perks and the chance to vote on Target’s community giving initiatives.

Target’s Cartwheel platform, which had offered coupons, will now be part of Target Circle.

Lisa Plascencia, a social worker in Tempe, Arizona, told NBC News she goes to Target at least once a week to fill a big red cart. The mother of four and grandmother of two said she already uses Target’s RedCard to save 5 percent off her purchases at the register. The new Target Circle program is designed to complement the RedCard perks, according to a news release from Target.

RedCard customers like Plascencia will continue to save 5 percent, and the new program will offer a 1 percent rebate to people who don’t have the credit card. Target will automatically enroll RedCard and Target.com members. Saving is then as simple as swiping a barcode from the Target app or providing a phone number at checkout.

While Plascencia is already earning a rebate with her RedCard, she said she’s looking forward to seeing what types of personalized coupons Target will offer her, and will let that shape whether she ends up dropping more cash at the retailer.

The retailer is the latest company to roll out a loyalty program, following the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s. Shares of Target are up more than 60 percent this year, trading near an all-time high.