Brands embrace unexpected partnerships

Robin Emiliani  /  Dec 08, 2020

As marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about delight.

Especially in a year so chaotic that murder hornets, zombie minks (yes, really), and a raging debate over whether it’s safe for Floridians to eat pythons have basically flown under the radar. 

How do we delight our users—with our designs, photography, content, branding, videos, sales experiences, and customer service? How do we make the pleasure centers in our brains light up like Christmas trees? How do we give customers a reprieve from the status quo—be that status quo day-to-day stressors or zombie minks?

There are plenty of answers out there. Good UX delights and relieves. Making sure marketing, sales, and customer service are always on the same page and can make or break a customer’s joy. 

And then there’s novelty. Surprise a customer with something new and (according to brain science) you’ll set the pleasure centers of the mind ablaze.

Which is why we’re big fans of unlikely partnerships. The kind of partnerships that surprise and delight. The ones we didn’t see coming, but now that they’re here they make so much sense.

Harry Potter working with Severus Snape. Arya Stark teaming up with The Hound. 

In the world of business: Nike + Ben & Jerry’s. REI and West Elm. Hershey’s and DC Comics.

And now: Target and Ulta Beauty.

This November, the two major brands announced their new partnership, which includes Ulta Beauty shops tucked up inside Target stores—a shop within a shop. 

For Ulta, this means more customers (75% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Target). Not to mention that they can take advantage of Target’s incredibly successful drive-up and shipped-from-your-store programs, which grew by 734% and 350% this year, respectively.

For Target, the partnership means long-term leases and expansion possibilities. It increases product options by 25,000+. And it’ll give Target the opportunity to build its reputation in the beauty space.

Not to mention that both companies have robust rewards programs and will now have access to each other’s members. (That’s 30 million+ for Ulta Beauty and a whopping 75 million+ for Target.)

It’s a pretty clear win-win situation. An opportunity to reach more people. Shake things up. Not to mention that research says that companies that keep marketing, adapting, and rolling with the punches through a recession are the companies that will continue to do well once the recession…well, recedes.

So, consider this your regular reminder that creative, unexpected partnerships are still a great idea. Unusual marketing often wins the day. 

And if you need help brainstorming, reaching out to partners, finding the places and ideas where collaboration can make a huge difference to your bottom line? That’s one of our specialties. Reach out anytime


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