Do words mean anything? In the age of all-marketing, all-the-time, I wonder.
So we learn in the Strib’s Sunday Business section that Target Corp., which we tend to associate with big suburban Target stores and even bigger SuperTarget stores, is experimenting with smaller stores “even smaller than the CityTarget stores the retailer began introducing more than two years ago.”
That’s exciting news, in the sense that the words “exciting” and “news” have lost most of the meaning they might have borne a generation ago. But the part that made me want to laugh or cry (still mulling which) was the big fourth paragraph, which imparted thusly:
“This is an exciting opportunity to test and learn as we continue exploring new ways to meet our guests’ needs,” John Griffith, executive vice president of property development, said in a statement posted on the company’s blog Friday.
I must be drinking too much coffee or something but I laughed/cried about it all day. We have been frequently reminded, as a result of the unfortunate cybersecurity snafu over recent days, that Target has no “customers,” only “guests.” I’m not sure what was so bad about the old word, “customer,” to describe those who go into stores to buy things in exchange for money. It wasn’t exactly an insult or anything. The “store” was in “business.” I was a “customer.” I got that. But it must have become sooo 20th century.
I do get that in the age of all-marketing all-the-time, which includes related newly manufactured words like “branding” and “imaging,” that a particular business (I’m sure I’m not supposed to say “business”) would prefer that I think of them as the kind of business that thinks of me as its “guest” and it as my “host” (except that until recently one of the main things about “hospitality” was that the “host” didn’t charge the “guest” money for stuff).
But let’s move on to what an “exciting opportunity” the “CityTarget” stores are (is it rude to still call them “stores?”) to “test and learn as [Target] continues exploring new ways to meet our guests’ needs.” Really, how many ways are there to avoid saying that we are talking about a “business” that operates “stores” where they have stuff for sale, to “customers,” for “money”?
Oh dear. Now the softie in me feels kinda sorry for this executive vice president (who, for all we know, may not have either said or written the silly quote, since all we are really told is that it was attributed to him on a company blog) for making such fun of a paragraph that only does what is done all the time. Sorry. But I do value straight talk, and I fear it is almost entirely disappearing from at least the realms of business and politics.