It’s not all that surprising that Target Corp. would want an icon like Shaun White. As an Olympic gold medalist in 2006 in Snowboarding SuperPipe”, X Games Gold medalist in Vert Skateboarding and Snowboarding SuperPipe, video game character, and 10-year-contract holder with snowboarding’s largest brand Burton, to get the Flying Tomato on a contract may mean big business towards reaching youth culture. Or clearly Target thinks so. And they may be right.

But one also needs to look at Volcom, the hugely popular youth culture brand he’s not resigning with.

To start, on January 28th, Shaun announced that he had signed a deal with Target to create an apparel line for back-to-school season for guys to be released this July. He can do this because his apparel contract with Volcom, the rising star that surprised many people a couple of years ago for some reason, expired in December.

The mass marketers’ move, it should be noted, is a growing trend that’s attracting more action sports brands and athletes. For example, OP, the legendary surf brand which was bought by Iconix Group 2 years ago, moved to be distributed in Wal-Mart, and Tony Hawk actually has a collection with Kohl’s.

Wonderwall, a line by big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton is going to be distributed soon by Steve & Barry which is a store chain with prices under 20 bucks.

In our North American Youth Culture data, when comparing top favorite brands among 13-25-year-olds, it’s important to note that the most significant overall shift from Spring 2007 to Fall 2007 was that Volcom had become the top favorite brand, reaching mainstream preference status at 11% up from 5.9%.

This was mainly because of the increase in preferences for the brand among females”, although it was still #1 among males, particularly among 15-17-year- olds. This leads to speculation of whether it’s the “brand” or the sponsored “person” that can attract youth culture mostly. While Volcom and Target are miles apart in terms of marketing strategies, both the brand and the mass retailer have created original campaigns and methods for reaching their various target markets. The effects of Shaun leaving Volcom will be interesting to watch in the near future, as well as how Target intends to use their new action sports icon. What we can quantify is that while Target has become more popular among specific target markets in youth culture in North America, they are not the #1 favorite store like Volcom is as a brand which is also reaching out internationally. Once again, it’s the battle of the brand vs. retailer mixed with celebrity endorsement. And this celebrity is a different kind an action sports icon, not a musician or movie star, which requires a different approach.

For more information on top Fashion preferences, including top T-shirt brands, denim, footwear, plus top sports and entertainment patterns, contact info@labelnetworks.com; (323) 630-4000 about our Premium Global Youth Culture Subscription 2008.