Department stores are facing terrific competition from online shopping and you can guess which one is winning. Between 2015 and 2020 alone, the number of department stores in the U.S. has reduced from 7,885 to 6,297 and is predicted to keep reducing.

Department stores used to be a one-stop shop for all shopping needs. You could find everything from clothes to groceries under one roof. But in today’s competitive retail market, department stores must be able to identify and target their true customers to remain competitive.

So, who is the target market for department stores and why do they shop there?

Let’s take a closer look at who these customers are and why they are yet to jump ship to the popular alternative – online shipping.

But first, what exactly is a department store?

What is a Department Store?

A department store is a large retail establishment that offers a wide range of consumer goods in one location. Department stores are typically organized into different sections, each selling a different type of product.

The most common types of products sold in department stores include clothing, cosmetics, home goods, and electronics. Examples of well-known department stores are Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Walmart, and Kmart.

Department stores are typically large and loaded with several collections of products, organized in a way that you can easily find anything you’re looking for.

That said, what reasons do those in the target market for department stores have to make the effort to go to the store when they can shop online from the comfort of their homes?

Why do Customers Shop at Department Stores?

The target market for department stores typically consists of people looking for a one-stop shopping experience. They want to be able to find everything they need in one place, without having to go to multiple stores.

This convenience is especially appealing to busy families and working professionals. In addition, department stores typically offer a wide variety of products at different price points, which makes them a good option for people with different budgets.

Another reason people shop at department stores is that they often have sales or special promotions going on. Also, many department stores offer loyalty programs that give customers discounts or rewards points, which encourages them to keep coming back.

Who is the Target Market for Department Stores?

To best understand the target market for department stores we need to ask ourselves who shops there and why.

By focusing on the need of a department store’s typical customer we can understand the motivations that the customer has to go to a department store as opposed to any other type of store.

Such a needs-based analysis gives us the following main segments of the target market for department stores:

  1. People who like a one-stop shopping experience
  2. People looking for a wide selection of products
  3. People who appreciate good customer service
  4. Consumers who are willing to pay a little extra for better quality
  5. Families who to shop in a place that’s kid-friendly
  6. People who value the in-store experience over online shopping

Let’s now look closely at each of these customer segments.

#1 – People who like a one-stop shopping experience

One of the things that make department stores preferable is that they offer a one-stop shopping experience. This is especially convenient for busy people who don’t have a lot of time to run around to different stores.

It’s also perfect for those with small children because it’s an easy way to shop without lugging your kids from store to store. Also, once they are in the store, people tend to find items they didn’t know they needed in the first place.

#2 – People looking for a wide selection of products

The target market for department stores isn’t limited to people who enjoy the one-stop-shop experience, but also people who want the option of a wide selection of products. This could be anything from clothing and accessories to home goods and electronics.

A lot of people go shopping with particular products in mind, but some prefer to have a wide range of products to compare and select from. Even for buyers that don’t necessarily have anything specific in mind to buy, the availability of varieties makes them pick something.

#3 – People who appreciate good customer service

Good customer service is the bread and butter of department stores, so it’s no surprise that the people who shop there are those who appreciate good customer service.

These shoppers are looking for a personal touch, whether it’s in the form of help from a sales associate or simply being able to find what they’re looking for without too much difficulty. They’d rather get quick help from customer service in person than phoning-in complaints to an online store.

#4 – Consumers who are willing to pay a little extra for better quality

Many people are willing to pay a little extra for the better quality that these stores typically offer. And department stores are generally one of the best options consumers have to get the best quality of a product.

Department stores pride themselves on offering the best quality of the products they have on display. Although they are third-party retailers, it is very unlikely to get counterfeit products on legitimate store shelves.

Customers know this, which is why they rely on department stores rather than shopping somewhere else like at a convenience store.

#5 – Families who want to shop in a kid-friendly place

The atmosphere in department stores is usually more relaxed than at a specialty store, which can be helpful for customers dealing with tired or cranky kids. And if their kids do get bored, most department stores have play areas or other activities to keep them entertained.

#6 – People who value the in-store experience over online shopping

There are still plenty of people who prefer the in-store shopping experience to buying things online. They like being able to see and touch items before they purchase them, and they enjoy the social aspect of going out shopping with friends or family.

Also, many people simply don’t trust making large purchases online without being able to speak to someone in person first. This set of people is the typical target market for department stores.


The target market for department stores typically includes middle- to upper-income shoppers looking for value, convenience, a wide range of options, and the in-store experience.

Department stores offer a wide variety of merchandise, which appeals to a broad range of customers. A department store that wants to remain competitive must focus its marketing campaigns and policies on this consumer demographic.