JCP Who?

I’m a retailer’s nightmare. Not only am I a penny-pincher, but I’m on a recycling kick, meaning I’m more likely to shop at Goodwill, Value Village, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, DSW, and Payless Shoes than Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom’s, or other department stores. Truth be told, I can count on three fingers the number of times I’ve purchased anything at a department store in the past ten years!

The likelihood of my walking into an upscale store like Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Burberry, Chico’s, Coach… J Crew, J Jill… or Victoria’s Secret approaches zero.

A few weeks ago, however, while sorting through the Sunday paper, I phased when I came across a cool, multi-page advertisement. Flipping through it, I thought “Target must have changed its branding.” I adore Target from its spunky print ads to its catchy TV jingles, store lay-out, hip merchandise, and Archer Farms foods.

I flipped to the back of the advertisement, expecting to see the Target logo. “Whoa! It wasn’t Target. It was JCP!”

“JCP who?”

“JC Penney!”

In the past few months, JC Penney under the guidance of new CEO, Ron Johnson, the whiz behind Target’s extraordinary brand, and Apple’s retail stores, has gone from stodgy department store to hip retailer. Most dramatic is JCP’s new “fair and square” pricing and return policy. It’s red, white and blue, and as American as apple pie.

If you watched the Academy Awards last night, you would have seen three ads featuring Ellen DeGeneres touting these new polices in a series of clever ads that asked, “Has it always been this way?” JCPenney

Instead of having hundreds of sales per year, JCP now has everyday prices (red), such as a dress for $45 and not 39.99, with a coupon that is only valid Friday through Sunday. Month-long values (white) are the “best stuff of the month, on sale for the entire month.” And every 1st and 3rd Friday, various items are marked down (blue) to sell quickly.

Target must have a similar approach, quickly turning stock by steeply discounting items, which are out-of-season or on the shelves too long. These sales are what has endeared me to Target, and could be equally effective at getting me into JCP.

The next step in the transformation of the 110-year old company, which is designed to help bolster in-store rather than on-line purchases is the roll-out in August of their store-within-a-store design. With around 1,100 stores through the United States and Puerto Rico, it will take until 2015 to complete the makeover.

These changes are designed to make JCP America’s “favorite store.” I know their cool print and broadcast advertisements have certainly piquing my interest and prompting me to visit a store in the near future… even it if means buying something at full- rather than a discounted-price.

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