It’s been interesting to watch JC Penny reinvent themselves over the last few weeks. The parallels to Target’s campaign seem somewhat obvious, but who’s better to emulate. Target’s done a great job of elevating itself from the Kay Mart category to its own uniques IKEAesque high design-low price, chic-cheap shopping mecca.
Will JC Penny be as successful? Can a 100 year old plus national brand that’s lost its way reacquire both it’s old customer base and a new one?
I hope so. I’m an old customer but not a loyal one. As the merchandise has become less then fashionable, the prices non-competitive , the customer service mediocre, the store design less then compelling, the brand has declined and so has my interest.
Over the last few years I’ve not taken myself or my family shopping at JCP more then a couple of times a year and then just to look for ready to buy window drapes. Of late, for many shoppers, the choices seem to be either Target or Nordstoms depending on their needs and the budget for shopping that month. Both trade in designer merchandise. The primary difference is price and decor (and service). But for those who can’t afford Nordies, Target has become a great option.
In JC Penney’s 1100 stores the new changes will include 12 big sales a year each one lasting a month with the best pricing on the first and third Fridays of the month (typical paydays for most people).
The stores decor will include racks that are a little more spread out, easy to read signage with rounded prices and themed merchandising. (Hoidays, etc). JCP looks like they are paying attention to what their customers are looking for and are trying to make the overall customer experience significantly more positive.
What can the typical merchant learn from the process?
1) Don’t let your brand or your store get creaky. Keep the logo, the store and the merchandise alive, fresh, exciting and current.
2) Stay on top of the industry. What’s new, who’s successful, how are they getting there? What can you do to compete or better yet, lead.
3) Analyze your stores displays, advertising, web site, in short the message you’re sending to your customers. If it’s less then enticing, change it. If you don’t know how, look for help. Just don’t sit still.
Keep an eye on JCP. With luck they will reimerge as a great place to shop.