JC Penney brandingBy Tom Dougherty
JC Penney branding ignored for yoga classes. So brilliant, right?
Oh, the desperate things retailers will try to gain preference. In the latest example of ignoring the bigger problem, JC Penney is testing a store concept that includes a fitness studio, a video-game lounge and style classes. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on JC Penney branding than this?
Look. No question brick and mortar retail is undergoing a crisis. One that’s sure to exist even with the holiday shopping season coming up. It’s tough out there for those competing against Amazon. In fact, it’s already over. Consumers have spoken.
But my biggest beef with retailers isn’t that they’re trying to improve the in-store experience. It’s that they continue to disregard the greatest problem they have. Their own brands.
JC Penney branding, for example, has undergone some change. But not enough. First, the retailer hired Ron Johnson from Apple and he promptly put an end to all the discounting JC Penney offered.
It was the smart play. But investors got antsy, so Johnson lasted less than two years as CEO. Basically, JC Penney panicked and replaced Johnson with his predecessor, Mike Ullman.
“JC Penney branding is what’s wrong with JC Penney. It’s not that the in-store experience repeals shoppers. It’s that any in-store attraction is limited and no amount of yoga classes will improve that.”
Why is JC Penney branding so ignored?
So what did Ullman do about it? Well, he returned JC Penney to its discounting days, and attempted some lame JC Penney branding that was only an updated version of the logo that meant nothing. It changed nothing, and JC Penney, like the rest of its retail brethren, is left wondering what the hell it can do to get people back into its stores.
OK, so having more things at the store isn’t by itself a terrible thing. Although I figure it’ll end up doing nothing as well. It’s not far removed from Capital One Café in which the bank thinks it’s luring in new customers for coffee, when it’s actually just giving them a reason to run away. As far and as fast as they can.
JC Penney branding is what’s wrong with JC Penney. It’s not that the in-store experience repeals shoppers. It’s that any in-store attraction is limited and no amount of yoga classes will improve that.
Instead, the stubbornness of retail executives to ignore truly changing their brands is dooming them.
I can imagine (and have seen) this scenario:
“Hey, maybe we should look really hard at JC Penney branding and be honest with ourselves.”
“Too much work. Let’s just add a video-game lounge.”
No wonder so many retailers are failing.
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