Just in time for spring cleaning — and Earth Day — Target Corp. has launched an expansive line of household cleaners and paper products made with biological or recycled materials and natural fibers.
The new line, known as Everspring, has been more than a year in the making and will offer about 70 different items when the rollout is complete.
Products include laundry detergent, dish soap, napkins, paper towels, candles and essential oils. The retailer plans to price the merchandise about 20% lower than comparable brand-name products such as Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation.
"It's a big step in a category where we haven't done as much owned-brand development," said Christina Hennington, a Target senior vice president who oversees merchandise such as essentials and beauty.
"It takes a long time to build the expertise — to source and develop, and do the chemistry behind the formulations as well as the packaging," she said.
Target Corp. has been rolling out in-house brands at lightning speed since 2017, a strategic move aimed at regaining the trend-forward luster it lost during the recession, when consumers were focused on basics at a good price. By the end of this year, the Minneapolis-based retailer plans to have on its shelves 25 new brands that it either owns or are exclusive to it.
Many of the private-label brands have been in apparel or home, such as Cat & Jack children's clothing, Project 62 household decor and the new Stars Above sleepwear for women.
These owned brands, which are designed internally and sourced globally, have higher margins and also give the company more control over inventory, which is becoming increasingly important as customers gravitate to online and digital shopping.
With the launch of Everspring, the retailer is riding a trend driven by consumers who are increasingly pushing for products that are sustainably sourced, haven't been tested on animals, are free of chemicals and other toxins and take less of a toll on the environment with their ingredients and packaging.
Target said its natural-products category has grown by double digits since 2016. That growth has been driven in large part by the retailer's core market of millennials — now ages 23 to 38, according to the Pew Research Center's demarcations — who are buying homes, starting families and rising the career ladder.
A Nielsen survey in 2015 found that 73% of millennials around the world are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, up from 50% the year before.
Everspring is one of Target's first entries into the natural products space. Target's Hennington said the retailer designed labels, bottles and packaging to be "counter worthy" and to feel like a cohesive product line. The retailer's chemists worked up scents such as a mandarin and ginger all-purpose cleaner, a lavender and bergamot cleaning wipe and geranium and herbs liquid hand soap.
The line also includes a scent-free option.
About half the product line was available in stores nationwide on Monday with more products rolling out in the months ahead.
The launch includes a website with more detailed information about the ingredients and uses. The products align with an initiative called Target Clean, that uses signs in stores and on target.com to help shoppers find products that don't contain harmful chemicals.
The launch of Everspring gives Target another offering in the household essentials aisles. Last October, Target launched its Smartly brand aimed at budget-conscious consumers. Up and Up, which launched in 2009, is positioned to go head-to-head with national brands.
Everspring, with items priced between $2.79 and $11.99, adds an Earth-friendly offering to that mix in hopes of bringing in shoppers for higher-margin offerings.
"When we think about what drives guests to Target, it's often the things they need regularly, like toilet paper and laundry detergent," Hennington said. "And when they're at Target, they enjoy the breadth of what we have, whether that's apparel, the home decor section, candy or seasonal goods."
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335 Twitter: @JackieCrosby