JCP & Me: A Reconciliation Story

I admit it… I have been hard on J.C. Penney’s since they
changed leadership.
  HERE and HERE are two of the last
posts I wrote which primarily focused on the advertising campaign and their decision to not have sales.  I still do not like the majority of their
advertising decisions; however it was this mailer which caught my attention (I love prints):
Obviously, they have decided to follow retailers such as Kohl’s
and Target and offer top designs at affordable price points.  So, I thought.. Hmmm, I think I need to go back for another look…
  The last time I walked into the doors, which
was about a year ago, all I saw for women were dowdy, frumpy styles.  I am happy to tell you that has
changed!!  When I entered, JCP I was
first pleased to see a small Sephora greet me at the door.  The entire store is clean and inviting….a
change from the past as well.  I enjoyed
trying on many looks from JOE FRESH, WORTHINGTON, A.N.A., Nicole by Nicole Miller, Liz CLAIBORNE, MNG by Mango, and the designer who drew my attention to begin with….DURO OLOWU.
YES, I purchased five pieces I will share with you
later.  But, the really good news is that
I found a lot of fashion forward looks at great prices and excellent
quality.  But, is it too late for JCP?
Harvard Business Review published a post by Roger Martin
this week (March 11, 2013) headlined J.C.PENNEY DESPERATELY NEEDS A STRATEGY.  Inside the piece, Martin
writes:
“The problem with J.C.
Penney is that it serves no compelling customer purpose – and neither did
Borders.  It doesn’t have an aspiration
for winning – just for improving the current pathetic state.  It hasn’t made a choice to pursue a
distinctive where to play and how to win that makes it a must have-destination
for some set of shoppers for some set of goods. 
This is the heart of strategy:  a
set of choices that aspires to win against all comers in a certain place by
delivering a particular winning proposition.”


I went to JCP to see if my feelings could change about them.  I did see changes and merchandise I
liked.  But, is that enough to make me
want to go back?    I am going to say that as of right now, based
on my recent shopping experience…YES, I would go back.  I do think they have great, affordable clothes
for women 40+…we know there is a lot of money in the Boomer audience and most
Boomers have favorable feelings of JCP from growing up shopping there.  If they could tap into our audience with
excitement, they just might discover a gold mine….but without changes to this marketing
strategy, I think Roger Martin is right “there is little or no hope that J.C.
Penney will prosper, let alone survive.” 
They still seem to be searching for who they are and who they want to
target.  The marketing strategy will
require more work on the advertising, in store merchandising and
promotion.  I told the female sales
person working check-out that I was a blogger…she said, “What’s a blogger?”  I think women’s clothing retail employees should know…it is kind
of important!
****One more thing that is slightly frustrating…after telling us they will not do coupons, I went to their website to provide links for this post and, lo and behold, there is a $10 off coupon for shopping this week…I could have used it when I went in, but was not informed of it by ANYONE.  So, I probably will not have time to return to the location for my $10…I could use it!  If I had known to look for something like this, I would have.  This does not help our reconciliation!****
What do you think about the changes at JCP?  Do you shop there?  Are you willing to check it out and what would
compel you to go?  Let’s give them some
help, ladies, and voice our opinions!
Then, go visit the other bloggers from Katie’s Favorite Things Blog Hop! and have
a wonderful spring day!!
http://katherinescorner.com/2013/03/13/thursday-favorite-things-blog-hop-79-2/

Your “living-like-you-feel-40” tip of the day:  Try some new looks with your style.  Go out of your comfort zone, and try on pieces you normally would not!  You just might be surprised!!

31 Comments

  1. I live in a small community and need to drive to a JC Penney. I am (was?) signed up on email before all of their changes and have the credit card. I get nothing from them, so I forget they are even available.

    I have not stepped foot in JC Penney or ordered on line since the changes. They have forgotten they need customers to survive.

  2. I was in JCP over xmas. Sephora was nice, but it really isn't anything new as I could walk down the other side of the mall and visit a much larger Sephora. There were some cute, fashion forward clothes, but the feel of the store was still old school, very stodgy. I still felt like I was shopping in the same place my mother would buy her clothes at (I'm 43, feeling 35!)
    I agree, they need to be bold with their marketing and like some of their latest commercials, "Yes, I bought this at JCP."
    I'll have to go in and take a look due to your blog. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to visit a JCP. Thanks for the post!
    Anita Lubke

  3. I am ex corporate employee of a JCP competitor, so keep that in mind 😉 I do not shop at JCP. I have tried, and the experience always falls short. As a customer, I am thoroughly confused as to the "image" they are going for. Offering coupons makes me think of a Kohl's experience. Plus with everything perpetually "on sale" like they did in the past had me running away. Don't even get me started on the customer service stations they have, not to mention it is nearly impossible to get help. THEN they had to go and try to steal (?) Martha Stewart from Macy's and now their home merchandise is on hold in some shipping containers while they figure out the whole legal debacle. Clearly someone in charge is not thinking clearly. A huge mess. Their core customer would have been happy with the private label merchandise. Now they have confused everyone with the "cool" collaborations. Nice post, and very interesting food for thought!

  4. I was in there about a week ago to get something from Sephora (I like having a Sephora nearby). I did like the MNGO offerings and the Levis, but I didn't find much that I'd part with my hard earned $$$ for. To be fair, it's a pretty small store. I fear they'll disappear within a few years, and that's a shame.

  5. I used to shop there after Robinson May was bought out by Macy's. The only real changes I've seen at our JCP is the quality of the merchandise. It has declined. I find the quality of the materials used in many of the clothes to be thin and cheap.

    I liken it to quilting fabrics. You may find the same pattern of fabric at the quilt store, the sewing store, and the local Walmart (when they carried fabric), but there was a huge thread count difference between the three fabrics.

    I realize the current styles are to layer tops, but I live where it is hot. I don't want to layer two or three tops just to feel decently covered. Tissue thin fabric annoys me.

    All that being said, the customer service is usually pretty good in our local store.

  6. Glad to hear that JCP is doing better. I have not been happy with the changes they've made and have not shopped there for over a year. I used to love to dress shop at JCP. Maybe I will have to check it out again.

  7. JCP is the only department store retailer in our small town, so I do go there, and I shop there online, too. I admit to not knowing a lot about current fashion trends, but look for classic style, which is hard to find almost anywhere. I do like, however, JCP's idea not to have sales, but to have decently low prices all the time. That way, I don't have to search for coupons, or time it just right to get a decent price. I like that a lot.

  8. I rarely shopped JCP until they added a small Sephora to our store. I will say that a renovation to our local shop made it much less cluttered and messy. But the customer service is lacking and I vowed at Christmas never to look for gifts there since they no longer give boxes. I'd much rather shop at Macy's.

  9. I guess i'll have to check them out again. i stopped going in because their plus-sized selections were so limited and awful!!! If they would beef up that section for us plus 40's with our new menopausel bodies they would have my interest. We've got money and we wear clothes.
    And i don't mean a bunch of alfred dunner stuff, either–we want nice fashionable stuff!

  10. I do like JCP for basics like jeans & tees which is what I live in most of the time. They carry a number of brands of jeans, including Lee, which is the brand that fits me best. The prices are very good. I also buy my basic lingerie there (I like Jockey panties & Maidenform bras) and their prices on those beat Macy's even on sale.

    I was really disappointed in the quality of the T-shirts when I shopped there last month for a few spring wardrobe updates. Very, very thin–as another commenter said you would have to wear two for your bra not to show through. I ended up buying only one pair of capri pants. I finally found tees I liked at the Lands' End store at Sears. Better quality cotton and reasonably priced. I'm a boomer and agree we are a big market that is widely ignored in the clothing retail world. I want to be fresh & current, but I don't want to dress like a 17-year old.

  11. I used to shop regularly at JCP, because they sold jeans, swimwear, and coats in tall sizes. After their restructuring, it seemed like those sizes disappeared from the shelves.

    When I received that coupon email yesterday, I looked online and saw that they did again have a few things in tall sizes, but not as many as they once had.

    (It's not only the ladies departments. There are also less options for tall men.)

    1. I agree 100% on the tall department situation! Everything in my size online is sold out and the only color pants available in the stores are black. I can only do so much with black pants. If they had 3 colors of tall pants, I would buy one color of each. That is 3x the sales and 3x the profit for just subtracting some black pants and adding in a couple of color options! Tall people are definitely under appreciated and it's hard for me to find clothes at a reasonable price, so when I do, I'll stock up!

  12. Your right, Pam – us Boomer ladies have a lot to offer in terms of consumer purchasing power – big brands and companies would be smart to listen to what we have to say in terms of what products we want!!

  13. OH my gosh can I just tell you I got the new JCP catalog in the mail the other day and was blown away. It's so cool! The images were fresh and inspiring. All through it are pieces I'd love to see in person and probably buy. AND it's SO cheap. I mean $18 for printed trousers, $25 for a printed pencil skirt. Again, wow. The problem is there are no JCP in my part of Los Angeles. Those sad stores disappeared years ago. Now I wish there were a few left as I'd definitely go check it out.

  14. I actually do like JcPenney, and quite a bit. I think they always have some really great sales going on and the quality hasn't ever let me down. I just shopped there last weekend for my daughter's upcoming birthday and it was fun.

    I'm visiting today from Thursday's Favorite Things. 🙂

  15. I hope J.C. Penney's survives! I think the recent focus has been good decisions but it may be too late. Who knows? I do appreciate the no sales- seriously sales just show you how high the mark ups are- why don't we come down to earth and offer good solid and steady prices for clothing we plan to keep awhile in our wardrobes?

    I wish them luck- love the glimpses you've shared with us some great pieces!

  16. Thanks for the heads up on the coupon as I am going shopping tomorrow and always stop by JCP. Love the Liz Claiborn top you picked out.

  17. Have you seen the new jcp tv ads? They have a whole new approach from where they started a year ago. I'm curious what everyone thinks. Try this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/jcpenney

    I also saw recently that they will offer coupons once a week!! They may be listening after all.

    With theses new changes and the better merchandise maybe there is hope they will survive

  18. Hi Pam. How were you able to find Joe Fresh inside jcp already? Isn't the national launch tomorrow?

  19. Yes, I too had two posts about the "new JCP" – I love what they have done, too bad the marketing tanked. Blog hopping from Katherine's Corner – enjoy the rest of your week!

  20. OH how I love polka dot shoes, PAM! And the striped ones too are just TDF. My mum bought me the cutest pair of FLORAL print shoes once and I wore those shoes til there was nothing left!

    Thank you precious Pam for coming to visit my post. Anita

  21. I used to shop that JCP a lot….even worked there in college….haven't been there in over a year. I don't like the no sale policy and I miss the coupons. I like to feel like I am getting a good deal. Also, I think they are missing the boat by not appealing to older women as we have shopped there since childhood.

  22. okay this hits hard. I had been a devoted JCP shopper for about 20 years. When they stopped their sales I did go in a few times, but went to Kohls and found better prices. I am happy they have decided to have sales again. But I didn't realize you had to jump through hoops for discount coupons… Truth is I "I will continue to shop there just not as often. Mostly because they have tall clothes for me and well for my hubby too. Thank you for sharing your lovely blog at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop xo

  23. Hi, would you consider posting a comment or pic on my new FB page – Bloggers4JCPenney? I really want them to succeed and think bloggers could be a big influence. Thanks and enjoy your day!

  24. I have one JCP near me and the only time I shop it is in spring/summer for casual dresses. For some reason there are always at least one or two standouts (for ridiculously low prices) that work for my shape and style. But otherwise I go there for NOTHING>

    I grew up shopping at JC Penney – though I haven't consistently shopped there since my late twenties – and I agree about the quality of the merchandise declining (though I think that's true of most American retail chains / stores. I find that I can get a good deal at a Macy's (or with a little more work, Dillard's) for something that's slightly better quality (sheets, skirts, etc) so I tend to focus on those stores and other chains like White House / Black Market, Ann Taylor Loft, etc for fun basics and cute clothes.

    I hope they make it but for several years all signs are pointing to JCP disappearing from the retail landscape. And though I don't support them much with my dollars anymore, I'll be a sad girl when they are no more. 🙁

  25. We have started going back to JPC recently. Our local store is small but we still find things. The larger stores have a very nice selection for women as well as men and teens. I like many of their things. The new ads have caught my eye. I wish them well and hope they continue to improve and eventually thrive.

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