Can sex sell for JC Penney?

The struggling retailer partners with Cosmopolitan magazine on a new line of handbags, shoes and lingerie.

By Kim Peterson Sep 7, 2012 4:16PM
Teenage girl buying clothes at till, close-up -- Lisa Stirling, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesJC Penney (JCP) clothes are functional, colorful and well, kind of dull. The retailer is trying to spice things up with a new collaboration with Cosmopolitan magazine.

It's an unlikely partnership: Staid, floundering department store meets racy women's read. But JC Penney is trying to go from frumpy to fabulous. And hey, it's better than Sears' (SHLD) head-scratching decision to hook up with the Kardashian sisters.

The Cosmo line will feature sleepwear, lingerie, shoes and handbags. Shoes will cost as much as $95, reports the Los Angeles Times. Other items in the collection include leopard-print panties, satin robes and snakeskin-print purses.

Would a Cosmo reader shop at JC Penney? The company is certainly making moves to attract a broader audience, although its sales slump shows it still has a long way to go.

Fashionista notes that JC Penney's decision to hire Ellen Degeneres as its spokesperson -- a controversial move that angered some customers -- was actually smart because "her nerdy-hip image works" and she's viewed as trendy.

Penney also bought the Liz Claiborne label -- a more traditional strategy -- and has partnered with the likes of Nicole Miller, Charlotte Ronson, the Olsens and Bongo.

"To the observer, it looks like a random hodge podge of brands all thrown together into a retail salad," writes Fashionista's Cheryl Wischhover. "And convincing a generation who has grown up with really good fast fashion to shop at the same place where their grandmothers do is still going to be an uphill challenge."

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128Comments
Sep 9, 2012 11:22PM
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JC Penny is completely turning away their current base without a ready market to move into. They've raised their prices and are selling lessor quality clothing. They've lost my shopping and investment dollars, and I expect that for them it will be an uphill climb. They should've gone classier and not trashier.
Sep 10, 2012 8:13AM
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Well we see what Ellen Degeneres  did for JCP  LOL and APPLE  executive..   both failures
Sep 10, 2012 8:16AM
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JC Penney sales are dramatically down due to "turning off" their core customers. We don't relate to Ellen as 99% of Penney shoppers are not gay or lesbian. Having Gay dads in their print ads in July was disgusting. The additional problem is their CEO (ex-Apple executive) who is permanently damaging their image - With Apple you could charge a fixed high price...people will pay top dollar for an Ipad. However, he tried that stategy and it failed at Penney because with their demographics..you need to run alot of discount pricing. Just look at Kohl's with Kohl's cash....that is what Penney's needs to do. I think the CEO will be fired this year and they will go back to a discounting strategy. And they are paying his $54 million per year to run their brand into the ground. The Penney's board should all be fired immediately.
Sep 10, 2012 8:44AM
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I was in our local J C Penney store just yesterday.   Whoever is doing their buying should be fired!!!  They had the ugliest clothes I have seen in my life!  I had planned on spending a decent amount of money for new work clothes (office setting) but couldn't find a thing that wasn't absolutely hideous.  Gaudy patterns, colors that looked like they were from a bad acid trip, frills and flounces.  It looked like the store was catering to barely legal age, pencil-thin hookers (with exceptionally bad taste.)  In addition, most of the fabrics for my size were "stretchy" - I'm approaching middle age and I do not want my unwelcome curves to be clung to by my clothes.  I don't want to see them, and certainly no one else does either! The fabric on many items was also so thin you could read a newspaper through it quite easily.  I'm not dropping my hard-earned cash for shoddy, ugly garbage like this. Someone please get a clue!  This isn't trendy, it's just plain tacky.  Old Mr. Penney must be spinning in his grave.
Sep 7, 2012 4:50PM
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Penny's management team killed the store for me.  At one time, I bought everything from Penny's, drapes, clothes, housewares, furniture, etc.  The last time I went in a few months back, the place was a ghost town, the parking lot empty.  I found a coffee maker and thought OMG to the $179 price.  Went to another store and got the same exact model for $129.  I wear tall clothes and noticed the prices inflated.  My Christmas mornings used to be filled with Penny's boxes and catalog purchases.  Not any more.  Good bye Penny's.  I really do miss you.
Sep 7, 2012 7:51PM
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Was a time when JC Penny, Sears, Montgomery Ward each had a certain 'uniqueness'. They sold quality goods (In my kitchen is a microwave my parents bought when Penny sold appliances and my brother still uses a dehumidifier purchased in the 60's).  And they provided good service. Now, every thing is made in other countries ... and most of it is junk.  Why go to Sears or Penny's when the same junk can be had at WalMart or some Dollar store? Employees are dispirited; there is no pride in these jobs anymore. Minimum wage, insufficient hours to qualify for benefits ....

 

These silly marketing strategies are worthless.  There is nothing unique about selling Kardashian/Cosmo/Miller/Martha Stewart ... it's all the same stuff made in some Chinese or Indonesian sweat shop.

 

Unless someone can figure out how to get manufacturing going again in this country, WalMart is our future.

Sep 10, 2012 10:33AM
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Sure, JCP. Make any deal you want, deal with the devil. You arrogantly told decent people to buzz off, now you're headed for the dust heap. Let this be a lesson to any corporate numbskull who believes the Hollywood-San Francisco screechers represent a majority of Americans.
Sep 7, 2012 8:12PM
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JCPenny will try anything to get a buck. ANYTHING. I worked there for 5 years and when I first started it was fun and a good place to work for. By the time I left they had cut our pay in half, yes half! I could go on and on and on for days about it. But they treat employees horrible and will do anything for good sales reports. They used to have good things. When something works don't try to fix it. They tried to become the new Macy's and have remodeled the store where I live about 3 times in the last few years.  They brought in cheaper items and the prices went up.  I'm pretty sure James Cash Penny would be mortified if he saw what his company has turned into.
Sep 7, 2012 7:31PM
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What is wrong with these corporate airheads that can see what works and just keep doing it?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  The store in my town looks like it's going out of business, in fact the catalog desk has closed.  But then it has looked that way for a while now.  There are a few men and women that I know who have worked in this local store for many years.  They have done everything right and by the book - but look what it has gotten them.  Probably in the unemployment line.  So sad.  JCP was iconic in those good old days.  Just about everything my family wore years ago came from JCP and was good quality and priced reasonably.  I have always bought my towels, sheets and pillows there.  The last towels I bought didn't last any time.  The sheets are thinner too.  The pillows were useless.  And that fancy magazine? catalog?  thingy goes straight to my recycling bin.  I don't even look at it.  I am a die-hard couponista, and that was my motivation over the last few years to go to JCP.  Take a look at Belks.  I get a coupon every week, and go there at least once a week to shop the sale.  Penney's could (re)learn from that.  And lastly, I sure do miss the big catalog!  I fear it is too late.  The guy who thought up all this mess will simply walk away with his millions in bonuses, his conscience unscathed.
Sep 7, 2012 9:31PM
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JCPenney caters too much to the  younger generation when it comes to clothes. They are not the only ones with buying power. Middle aged and seniors have money to spend also, but we cannot find any suitable clothing for our age group.
Sep 7, 2012 5:19PM
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They are grasping at straws.   Let me see, first it was lesbians, then same sex marriage, and now they are going after the Cosmo crowd.  My god, I thought Obama was the biggest guesser but this CEO now has to be considered the worst appointment ever in the fortune 500 world.   At this rate they will be gone before Sears.   Well, it's a toss up.   This guy never passed Marketing 101 at a junior college.
Sep 10, 2012 2:20PM
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here's a thought:   Admit their "new" effort, no sales, no coupons, etc. was a bust and go back to what it was!  Ever since JCP made this change it has been downhill for sales and the stocks.    Fire the idiot that did this and go back ot being JC Penneys.
Sep 10, 2012 8:09AM
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The people who eat at Chi-Fli-A do not shop at J.C. Penny.  That's a lot of folks to write off.
Sep 8, 2012 12:06AM
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JC Penney's sales will turn around when they quit listening to their new CEO and start listening to their customers.  I and many other long time JC Penney customers have contacted them about their supposed "changes for the better".  We get a form letter email that re-explains the changes and tells us we should like them.  I used to like shop at JCP a lot.  Now I go out empty handed and "did not have a fun shopping experience".  Their board of directors better wake up soon.
Sep 7, 2012 4:51PM
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Drive by and look at their parking lots.  They are not what they used to be.
Sep 10, 2012 8:09AM
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I like J.C Penney's they are ok , but i'm in my 40s so i don't agree with the facelift. They need something for the 40s on up . Todays clothes reveals to much skin, i don't go for it.
Sep 7, 2012 9:34PM
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The sad thing is the ceo and the people working below them, all they care about is profit instead of LISTENING TO CUSTOMERS, YEA YOU HEARING US ON THIS MR, CEO OF JCPENNY MAYBE IF YOU GUYS WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO CUSTOMERS AND ASKED WHAT THEY WANTED IN RETURN AND INSTEAD OF REMODELING AND TOSSING OUT THE GOOD STUFF TRYING TO THINK THE TODAYS LOOK IS IN YOUR WRONG, YOUR MERCHANDISE NOT ONLY IS OVER PRICED BUT THEY CHEAP AS HELL, I USE TO WORK IN JCPENNY BACK IN 98 AND I HAVE TO SAY AT THAT TIME IS WAS ABSOLUTLY NICE PLACE THE CLOTHES WERE VERY NICE AND GOOD QUALITY, THATS THE PROBLEM COMPANY WAKE THE HELL UP, YOU GUYS AT JCPENNYS HEADQUARTERS NEED TO THINK ABOUT MANUFACTURERING STUFF IN THE UNITED STATES INSTEAD OF OVERSEAS, THE STUFF IS SHITTY TODAY, I BARELY BUY ANYTHING AND IF I DO  I MAKE SURE ITS NOT MADE OVER SEAS ONLY IN THE UNITED STATES, AND START LISTENING TO CUSTMERS OR THE COMPANY GONNA END UP LIKE MONTGOMERY WARDS, CIRCUIT CITY AND MANY GOOD COMPANIES THAT WENT OUT OF BUSINESS, ITS SAD VERY SAD THAT YOU CORPORATE PPL ONLY THINK ABOUT MONEY WHEN THEY CUSTOMERS ARE TELLING WHAT THEY WANT, SEXY CLOTHES IS NOT GONNA CUT IT, MAYBE A 50 DONT WANT TO BE DRESSING UP LIKE A NASTY SKANKY KARDASHIAN, BRING BACK THE MERCHANDISE YOU HAD BEFORE AND DO MUCH BETTER WITH THE CATALOG , ALOT OF PPL HAD BOUGHT ITEMS THROUGH THERE BECAUSE IT WAS DESCENT AND REASONABLE, STOP THINKING ABOUT GREEN AND START THINKING ABOUT CUSTOMERS AND WHAT THEY WANT, IF I OWNED A COMPANY OH YOU BET YOUR BOTTOM IM GONNA BE WANTING TO KNOW WHAT MY CUSTOMERS WANT, AFTER ALL THEY PAY YOUR BILLS AND MAKE YOUR MONEY, YOU GUYS OUGHT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO TELL YOU, MAYBE ONE DAY JCPENNY WILL BE UP THERE WITH MACYS LIKE THEY USE TO, MAYBE YOU GUYS NEED A LESSON FROM MACYS AND DILLARD AND SO FORTH, THEY RESPOND TO CUSTOMERS, THEY KNOW WHAT PPL LIKE AND DONT LIKE AND THEY GO ABOUT IT CAUSE THEY KNOW THE CUSTOMERS ARE THE ONES THAT ARE GONNA MAKE YOUR SALARY SIMPLE
Sep 10, 2012 12:50PM
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I'm a faithful JCPenney and Sears shopper when I actually need something new; but that's rare.  I've got pretty much all I need.  I might buy a new shirt or pants, socks and underwear every other year.  Maybe most Penney shoppers are like me -- they don't buy new often; but when they do, they want quality (and by that I mean durable, not just the latest "fashion").  Trying to beat WalMart in a race to the bottom on quality was a bad move.  Discount stores are all about volume, and they cater to the type of people who buy trash just to be buying something.  I expected more out of Penney.  Sadly, I'm no longer getting it.
Sep 10, 2012 9:51AM
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sell, sell, sell,..what ever it takes to get it done...but lets not sell our values...or is that for sale as well?
Sep 10, 2012 3:34PM
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When JCP hired their new CEO, they made the biggest mistake ever. JCP is not Bloomingdales and they sould not try to reach that socioeconomic class; they will not. So while they spent millions paying an off track, out of touch CEO who has no idea what it is to be low - middle income families, who built JCP. And now this out of touch CEO, is trying to snob the very population that is responsible for supporting JCP through the years. Get off your high horse (CEO) and think; this likes of those who supported JCP through the years are not going to support you trying to change JCP into some modern day upper class appeal store; this same group of people will not support Ellen Degeneres and her likes and any attempts you make in this direction will cause a revolt on you and your ideas. When I found out about JCP's May's catalog tactics to appeal to the likes of Ellen Degenres; I immediately returned the furniture i purchased from them and cancelled my JCP credit card. This is my stand against what they are trying to do and I do not have to accept it. I have not shopped at JCP since and I plan to keep it that way. BTW, I used to shop almost weekly at Penny's but there are too many options to be forced against my will

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