“Wall Street doesn’t seem to like J.C.Penney’s new everyday low pricing any better than Main Street does.” – Associated Press, May 17, 2012
Thus was the lead yesterday in the business section as AP announced JCP stock plunged nearly 20% on Wednesday, the biggest decline in four decades. Are you surprised? I certainly was not…in fact, I had been waiting for it. I’ve written more than once on this blog that I did not believe their new strategy would work…and it hasn’t. Kohl’s response to the JCP marketing strategy was nothing short of brilliant when they featured women athletes discussing shopping as their sport.
Women of a certain age, love to shop!!
Brilliant, because it is true. Especially in today’s economy…we want to get a good deal and we want to get great product for that good deal. When I was in advertising and public relations, which is honestly most of my business life, I learned a few sound principals, which should not be forgotten:
1. Women love to shop…it is their sport! We often find pleasure in it and pride in it.
2. Advertising should appeal to as many senses as possible….visual and audio together are powerful….I haven’t seen a JCP television ad where you hear their name.
3. Don’t do too much in an ad…focus on one main message. Their television ads often attempt to cover multiple departments.
4. Make sure your message communicates to the target audience….their Fair and Square message is confusing. They assume that offering constant coupons and sales are unfair…women don’t think that way. Listen, JCP, we want FABULOUS and AFFORDABLE….NOT, Fair and Square.
5. Ellen is a comedian…not a style icon…there is nothing funny about wanting to look great at an affordable price. We take our shopping very seriously!
If you want to sell women clothes, then style some great looks and show us why you are different from the other places. Give up trying to bring in the Forever 21 and H & M customer….baby boomers who want to look and feel younger can be a powerful target audience for you…we have discretionary income! But, we want to look stylish, youthful, trendy, fun, individual and powerful…all in the same wardrobe. Once you pull us in with fashion, then, you can sell us household goods and kids clothes.
We also want SERVICE and sales people who give us attention and are knowledgeable in fashion and style. We shop for many reasons…remember that fun and having an experience are part of those reasons, and we are fiercely loyal to the retailers we love. If you want some specific campaign ideas…let me know…I have some and it is not too late to save the sinking ship. But, if your plan is to do more of the same…save your advertising dollars, it will not work.
The article explains there are future plans for JCP to turn things around. Betsey Johnson is great for the younger crowd…but will they stay for long…younger girls are fickle and only stay until the next stylist hits Target! Do not discount women 40+….the opportunities are great…but you have to understand the audience in order to motivate them to return to a retailer they grew up with. You can tweak the ads all you want, but without a change in strategy, the bottom line will not change.