UPDATE---Wednesday Feb. 1, 2012----JC Penny launched it's new look, concept and retail ads as of today. A streamlined logo and choices for shoppers to explore are now waiting for them on the redesigned website.
Three choices are there for the picking. The new JC Penney monthly calendar, the explanation of their slogan, "fair and square pricing and a video ad of what is in store during the month of February.
Consistently low prices are the keystone of the strategy, along with designating two days a month for extra savings. Link to new site posted below.
A Christian organization, One Million Moms is demanding that Penney fire its new spokesperson, Ellen DeGeneres, for not representing traditional American families. Read that here.
JC Penny has run commercials featuring what some have called the most annoying sound track in recent memory. Actors depict consumers screaming the word "No," as if they are watching the most horrible scene imaginable. Video posted below.
In fact, they are looking at mail boxes full of retail fliers with unintelligible mark-downs, special sales and promotions in a never ending stream of paper. It is precisely the reason that the retailer is reinventing itself into an everyday low price store with mark downs and sales on a scheduled basis.
JC Penny CEO, Ron Johnson resigned a perfectly fine position working at Apple and when he announced his resignation he says that Steve Jobs asked him "Are you serious?"
Ad Age reported on the shake up at the moribund retailer, struggling to position itself in a marketplace full of discounters, high end and specialty retailers and traditional department store chains that had more cache than JC Penney.
"Over the course of the next few years, he promises to shake things up further, putting departments back in department store, eventually remolding JC Penney's stores into locations with 100 unique shops."
The retailer's executives might have been shocked by Johnson's concept but Wall Street is happy, sending the company's share higher as the February 1 date approaches.
Forbes reported that in the course of two trading days on Wall Street, Mr. Johnson's strategy of leaking some information and withholding more until a formal anaylsts' meeting added $1.5 billion to the company's stock price.
The numbers seem to prove out the theory, but the ultimate validation will be in consumers' approval. In short, Mr. Johnson believes that the retail shopper knows the right price for any item.
It was demonstrated, particularly in the last Christmas selling season, by shoppers willing to wait and essentially gambling that if they waited long enough, the price would drop to the level they wanted.
"The customer knows the right price," Mr. Johnson said. "We can raise the price all we want. She's only going to pay the right price. She's an expert."
Taking a page from big box retailers, JC Penny will roll out what they call "fair and square pricing", promotions will be run for a month and customers will know what to expect in advance, with friendly reminders throughout.
No longer will customers see a typical sale offering a steep discount on a second item of the same type or a buy-one-get-one free display. Johnson is pinning his hope on trusting the research which demonstrated that almost 3/4 of the retailer's sales came from items marked down 50% or more.
The New York Times reported that in addition to the sales strategy changes, Johnson promised a complete redesign of the company's stores nationwide and the creation of 100 boutique shops within the store, where only departments now exist.
Link to redesigned JC Penney site.
Ellen DeGeneres was retained to be the company's national spokesperson, a new logo will be unveiled and ads will no longer stress sale pricing. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Bernd00