J.C. Penney's latest marketing gambit: Apologizing
The repentent retailer goes straight to customers and begs forgiveness for messing up.
Apologizing is rarely easy, and it's harder still for companies that have made major mistakes. But J.C. Penney (JCP) has decided its best approach to damage control, after a notoriously difficult year-and-a-half under former CEO Ron Johnson, is to come out and directly say "we're sorry" to its customers.
The retailer fired Johnson last month and rehired former CEO Myron Ullman, after Johnson's attempts to take the company in a different direction ran into a brick wall. Johnson wanted to revamp Penney's product lines, downsize staff and do away with its long-standing coupons, discounts and bargains.
But those changes backfired dramatically. They ended up alienating many of the store's long-time clientele while destroying employee morale. The company's struggles became headlines -- with revenue falling 25% in a single quarter and share prices declining around 60% in a year.
And now, as the dust appears to be settling, the company is appealing directly to consumers.
"It's no secret, recently J.C. Penney changed," says a new ad the company posted on YouTube. "Some changes you liked and some you didn't, but what matters from mistakes is what we learn," the voice-over continues. "Come back to J. C. Penney, we heard you. Now, we'd love to see you."
Some customers seem willing to forgive and forget. "It's nice to see the old logo again," says one recent comment on retailer's YouTube site. "Just bring back coupons and decent sales on Nike (NKE) apparel and I will return!"
But others are less convinced. "You know, when Domino's (DPZ) admitted they made a mistake, they gave us a reason to go back: A better product," said another YouTube commenter. "'We're listening', with zero incentives, is just an empty phrase."
Analysts say the new campaign may heal some wounds with disgruntled Penney customers, but they'll also want to know where the company is heading.
"When you are in a free fall, you sometimes need to call a time out and say, 'Wait a second. We're going to get this under control,'" Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates, told the Associated Press. "The answer may be further down the road as to why they come back."
I stopped shopping at JCP which was my favorite store when they stopped the sales/coupons and good quality clothing at reasonable prices. The quality of clothing went out the window with the no sale approach... I hope they go back to the old ways.
Will definitely go back if the old JCP reemerges!
JC Penney needs to go back to having their employees dress like employees and not someone off the street. The men use to wear dress shirts and ties and the girls wore dress clothes as well. Now they were jeans and you can't tell who works there until they come up to you and harass you to apply for one of their credit cards.
I think they should just have a "credit station" where people that want to apply for a credit card can. I HATE when I am checking out and the associate asks if I have a credit card from their store and when I say no, they then as if I want one.
That little niche isn't being filled and JCP could fill it. They're almost there - their selections (at least on the men's side) are similar to what Filene's had. But they need to beef up their inventory (I can almost NEVER find an item I like available in my size online). And the stores need a makeover.
At least they slashed his pay before they giving him the boot. It's time that all CEO compensation be based on performance, especially if they expect to make 1795 times more than the average worker at their company (former J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson received a total compensation package 1,795 times that of former fashion jewelry saleswoman Rebecca Gonzales in 2011.)
Give the company credit for listening to it's customers and reversing previous strategy. Some of the well known brands are returning (i.e. Saint John's Bay). The home departments are being remodeled and other areas of the store now contain brand shops. It will be interesting to see if the remodeling efforts continue under Mike Ullman's tenure.
For those that are complaining about prices rising to support a coupon/sale marketing strategy, I cannot understand any argument you might possibly possess. The previous strategy entailed having low prices all the time but no coupons or sales. Unfortunately, marketing efforts did not communicate this very well.
If you want the company to act as other retailers, you must expect retail prices to rise to support various coupon or sales campaigns. If you think any other retailer does not have inflated prices to support similar marketing, you must be kidding yourself. A sale or a coupon is never an amazing deal; it's allowing consumers to bring prices closer to true retail value. Granted, this strategy works incredibly well and it's a good thing for J. C. Penney to return to this style of offering. After all, every competitor offers similar strategies.
Hopefully, the company will continue to bring back popular brands and support sale and coupon marketing strategies. Either way, you can please all of the people some of the time and some people all of the time. Give the company a chance and help save 1000s of jobs. It's in your best interests for J. C. Penney to succeed.
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