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Sun, Jun

Am I The Only Person Who Thinks The J.C. Penney Rebrand Did Something Right?

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MARKETING POLITICS - A few months ago, I walked into a J.C. Penney store for the first time in at least a decade.

It's not that I studiously avoided it on purpose -- I just hadn't thought of it as a destination for anything other than baggy capri pants and heavy drapes. And it's not like I looked down my nose at the idea of bargain prices. After all, I'm big on Target. If I had to equate my style with any person, I'd say that I dress like a young Mary Tyler Moore

So what changed my mind? A display of cropped pants that looked very Tory Burch, but were only $25. They were not on sale. That was how much they cost, full-price, without any discounts. 

Of course, I snapped them up, along with an armload of solid three-quarter sleeve sweaters that came in at $15 a piece. Again, full-priced, no discounts. They are now my wardrobe staples. 

So, I kept coming back. The store was clean, well-lit, organized and had plenty of clothes that a stylish shopper would covet. It was a far cry from the dark, cramped department store of yesteryear, which primarily featured disorganized masses of markdown racks filled with scratchy garments that even the most fashion-averse person would reject. I bought more crops, tops and accessories. 

I marked my calendar for the debut of the new home department (which promised Jonathan Adler and Conran at discount prices) and the Bijoux Bar (think: Kenneth Jay Lane and Kara Ross).

Then everything changed. 

After their CEO resigned, a new ad campaign debuted which apologized for the very things that got me into the store. I read plenty of stories about how customers were actually angered by the idea of everyday low prices, stylish goods and even the store design. A commenter on J.C. Penney's Facebook page actually called the good stuff "sleezy." Spelling issues aside, I can't see how one can consider items like sweaters with three-quarter sleeves sleazy. 

Besides, the older brands (like Worthington and Arizona Jeans) seemed to still be there. The company was posting losses, so I understand the need to change for the sake of profitability. I just don't know why the rebrand didn't work in the first place. (Read the rest … including what the backlash was all about … here.) 

-cw

  

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 49

Pub: June 18, 2013

 

 

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