Source: Ragan’s PR Daily


The new marketing campaign and pricing strategy for JCPenney was supposed to boost brand engagement, sentiment, and most importantly, boost sales.  According to a business insider quoted in Ragan’s PR Daily, what happened instead is that JCPenney’s first quarter profits dropped by 20 percent and traffic at the stores declined by 10 percent. Additionally, eight out of 10 comments on its Facebook page are negative. So what happened?

Love the new Target ads!

When I received the ad inserts at my home for the first time, I thought Target had a new campaign.  The ad insert had a modern, clean somewhat high-end feel to it! It felt very, well, “Tar-jay.”

Everyone loves a good sale!

With the new creative campaign came a new pricing strategy of “no more sales.” Everything was simply going to be inexpensive or ‘cheap’ every day.  The challenge is that, especially given these tough economic times, consumers actually like sales. They need sales. And they want to feel like they’re getting a good deal.

Always low prices.

Hmm, that sounds awfully familiar.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken, another large retailer already owns that position in the marketplace. That was its tagline for 19 years before moving to “Save Money. Live Better.,” which also sounds and feels a lot like JCPenney’s new campaign.

Where am I?

In June of this year, the Huffington Post ran an article titled “J.C. Penney’ ‘frumpy’ customers demand stores remain frumpy.” Thus in trying to garner new customers, they simply alienated their current ones.

I’m confused!

And so were their customers.  I appreciated the bold business and marketing moves that Ron Johnson, the new CEO brought to the table.  After all, he has quite an impressive track record given his retail successes with Apple and Target.  I think the biggest problem is that J.C. Penney is not Apple or Target.  Instead of trying to carve out its own space in the marketplace, it tried to move into others’.  I definitely give the company kudos for its daring moves, but somewhere along the way the strategy and execution simply missed the “target.”

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