17 October 2014

JC Penney: The Store For Everyone

Brick & Mortar and catalogue of yore now online retailer JC Penney is grooming a new CEO:

J.C. Penney Seeks Home Depot Treatment Under Ellison
imageMarvin Ellison helped turn around Home Depot Inc. (HD) in the last decade. Now he’ll try to repeat that feat at J.C. Penney Co. (JCP)

The department-store chain, struggling to emerge from $3 billion in losses in the past 3 1/2 years, yesterday named Ellison its next president and chief executive officer.

The simplest of through lines, with much missing:

jcp1965The history of J.C. Penney goes back over 100 years.  In the 1960s Penney began to position itself as a middle America alternative to department stores (Macy’s, scores of others).  On the other end, it was more fashion-conscious than stodgy, dependable Sears. 

Then Target (also with a long though disjointed history) positioned itself as a hipper version of J.C. Penney. Other retailers followed. Now, Penney is perceived as almost as stodgy and behind-the-times as Sears was.

Time for a shakeup.

Mr. Ellison is given credit for helping to turn around Home Depot.  One of the reasons I like HD: age diversity.  I don’t go looking for some old person to help me, but they’re there.  And I know they have some idea of what I might have to go through utilizing a product, installing whatever– so they steer me in the right direction and give good advice.  If you’re a young’un, and you want to talk to a young’un – they’re there, too.

Somewhere in the above paragraph might be a clue for turning around J.C. Penney.

What about advertising?  Penney might study the age-neutral campaigns of Marks & Spencer:

05 October 2007
London & Marks & Spencer
…What fascinated me was walking into the store with my more-significant-than-I-am other and watching her riffle through the racks. She turned this way and that, being drawn to items for herself, her teenage daughter, and her twenty-something daughter. It was obvious that all three could shop together practically in the same spot.

There are plenty more – all the way up to today.  Search YouTube. 

And there’s this:

Marks & Spencer named as best retail brand at representing baby boomers, poll shows

JC Penney could (and should) be the store for everyone.