Target and Blue Ridge Tools – They’re Doing it Wrong

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Target has launched a new brand of Blue Ridge tools, or at least that’s what it looks like. I always swing by the tool “section” – Target’s half of an aisle devoted to such things – and this is the first I’ve seen of their Blue Ridge tools.

There are also some Blue Ridge tools on Amazon, which I found surprising. I’ve never heard of this brand before, and it seemed that it was launching as a Target-exclusive house brand.

Was this an effort to challenge Walmart’s exclusive Hart brand of tools? Or… why mess with the Stanley-centric hand tools they used to carry? Target used to carry Black & Decker power tools, right? I don’t remember, I just have the strong impression that all this Blue Ridge stuff is new.

Blue Ridge Cordless Drill at Target

What separates [Blue Ridge tools] from the others in the shed? This is what the in-store signage asks. They then answer it with:

Modern Power – Share batteries across every Blue Ridge platform for greater power flexibility.

Multi-Functional – Finish a variety of projects more easily without switching between tools.

Made Forever – Get free replacement batteries for the life of every Blue Ridge cordless tool.

What?

Target has a single 20V Max cordless power tool in stores – a drill kit. They have other cordless tools, but with built-in batteries. There’s also an alkaline battery-powered screwdriver.

Blue Ridge 20V Max Cordless Tool Range
Blue Ridge 20V Max Cordless Tool Range Banner (via Amazon)

There are banner images in the Amazon drill kit listing, advertising that you can share your batteries across the 20V Max range. They then show a cordless drill, flashlight, reciprocating saw, and jig saw. But these products don’t actually appear to be for sale anywhere, not that I can find at least.

Target doesn’t carry any of these other 20V Max cordless power tools either. But somehow they do have 2 pegs full of replacement batteries.

Blue Ridge Cordless Drill Kit at Target

Okay, so Target has this Blue Ridge cordless drill kit.

What’s the torque rating? What’s the speed? I neglected to check the box, but you certainly can’t find this information via their product page on the Target website. They do specify that it’s a 3/8″ drill (as opposed to 1/2″). Maybe they’re taking marketing lessons from Greenworks.

Reviews seem to be mixed, with a lot of folks angry that the kit doesn’t come with any drill bits.

But why would a cordless drill come with drill bits? I mean, you don’t buy cookware expecting them to come with ingredients, or things like spatulas.

Blue Ridge Cordless Drill Kit at Target Box Packaging

But here’s the box. 13 bits!!

They use the same language online – includes 12 bits and a magnetic bit holder.

Blue Ridge Cordless Drill Kit Application Images on Target

Looking online, they have product images like this one, showing a drill bit set with the drill kit.

Note: Where are the safety glasses? Why isn’t the model’s hair tied back? Marketing images MUST depict safe user practices. In this case, it would mean the model should have been wearing safety glasses and their hair should have been tied back instead of being loose like this.

Blue Ridge Cordless Drill Kit and Other Tools Target Image

Other images on the same product page show different tools on a side table.

Maybe this is where seemingly unnecessary “accessories not included” messaging could have helped.

On one hand, beginners who might be shopping this unfamiliar tool brand at Target might have been mistakenly expecting for the drill kit to come with drill bits. Such customers are likely going to be DIYers who don’t know any better. On the other hand, Target’s product page and Blue Ridge’s description and box art advertise “13 bits” without describing them in sufficient detail.

I feel that this is all just a lesson in bad marketing.

Target should have sales data about what their users tend to buy, but why did they switch over to this Blue Ridge brand? I don’t know when they did this, but it seems like a somewhat recent change.

What was the goal here?

Let’s bounce Target’s Blue Ridge claims back at them – what does separate this brand and these tools from others? If the brand only sells one cordless power tool, that’s not really a platform, is it?

The hand tools all seemed ordinarily generic.

At first glance, this seemed to be a new and competitive effort by Target, but looking deeper it just seems very amateurish.

Target has multiple “boutique” collaborations and store-within-a-store setups. But this is the best they can do when it comes to tools?

At least Target seems to have a “Blue Ridge Support team” online, judging from how they have been quickly responding to customer reviews, where users complain about their 2AA cordless screwdriver overheating and melting.

I anticipate a couple of readers to leave comments along the lines of “what did you really expect?,” but even those shopping for entry-priced tools at general merchandise stores deserve a more coherent marketing effort.

Target is one of the top-10 largest retailers in the United States – they could do better, especially if this Blue Ridge overhaul was an attempt to match Walmart’s Hart tools if even in a small way.

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