The Evolution of JCPenney Brand

//The Evolution of JCPenney Brand

The Evolution of JCPenney Brand

JCPenney Brand History:

jcpenney branding history

In 1902, James Cash Penney opened a dry goods and clothing store called The Golden Rule

The original company was a local destination for farmers to get their blue jeans and shoes.

By 1912, he had 34 stores and all of them were consolidated under the JC.Penney banner and the name Golden Rule was dropped, now the company became known as JCPenney.

In 1963, J.C.Penney entered discount merchandising and also started its famous catalog business.

1971, JCPenney had over 2000 stores, it also started its famous catalog business.

It also launched  its internet store in 1998, which has since grown into one of the largest apparel and home furnishing retail sites on the internet.

JCPenney enjoyed growth and success until 2009, added new brands and categories.

JCPenney also changed its logo several times throughout its history.

Although JCPenney had undergone many changes to its store, logo, categories and brands that it carried throughout its 108 years of history, one thing stayed the same. It was couponing.

As a result, JCPenney had a very loyal customer base. People had always associated JCPenney with bargain and coupons.

Rebranding and Decline

However everything changed in 2011. JCPenney hired a new CEO from Apple. Ron Johnson attempted to transform JCP into a trendier brand.

fair and square pricing model

First, he replaced sales and coupons with everyday low prices. He introduced the “fair and square” pricing strategy. However, people didn’t like that.  They were attracted to JCPenney because of deals via coupons and price markdowns. Shoppers love that and it created a sense of accomplishment when they see the “How Much You Saved” line at the bottom of the receipt.

jcpenney spend chart

He changed merchandise and overall store layout and design. He created small boutique shops to try to make JCPenney a hip shopping “destination”. However, many of its oldest and most loyal customers felt like they were no longer JCPenney’s target market. They felt like they were alienated by the department store.

So as a result, people started to shop at JCP’s competitiors like Sears, Macy’s and Kohl’s. JCP’s net sales declined by a large percentage from 2011 to 2012.


After 17 months and $43 billion loss in sales, Johnson was fired and replaced by JCP’s former CEO.  JCP is now trying to win back its old customers.

In May 2013, JCP aired “Its no secret” TV ad, admitting that it had made mistakes, but it is committed to win people back by listening.

Coupons and sales were brought back; some of the more popular brands were also restored.

However JCP’s sales continued to decline because many people are still reluctant to shop at JCP.

Some of the barriers are:

1) There is no strong differentatior between JCP and other retailer stores. All  JCP stands for now is deals and coupons. Other stores are doing that as well.

2) Lastly, since many of JCP’s previous customers are already shopping at stores such as Macy’s and Kohls. It’s hard to change their behavior without JCP having any strong differentiator or incentive.

Currently, many people are still unwilling to go back to JCPenney due to their distrust of the brand. Many of those who went back to JCPenney were disappointed at the lack of selection at the stores and many complained about receiving bad customer service from JCPenney sales people.   In term of marketing, there is a clear lack of connection between JCP’s customers and the brand because JCP’s various channels do not provide a unified brand experience to customers. People tend to trust a brand more when the brand understands their needs and provides the service/products that fulfill this need. Thus JCP can build people’s trust and reliance by understanding their needs, providing values that can fulfill the needs and building relationships through integrated brand experience in various channels.

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Brand Strategy

Brand Idea: Your Needs, Our Passion.

To regain people’s attention and trust by providing values through relationship building with customers and JCP brand with useful content, online and offline integration.

Content: generate content related to topics such as fashion on the budget, how to look like

[Celebrity name] in under $50, and various life and fashion hacks that help save money. People are still cautious about their spending; they are always looking for ways to save and getting deals.

All of these messages and content should be consistent across all of its channels – owned, earned and paid.

TV Website + Blog Social Media App In – Store Expert Guidance
JCP’s main target audience watches prime time TV shows. Moms love content related to life  and fashion hacks. JCP will host its own blog dedicated to provide valuable content for its target audience at making their lives easier. JCP’s audience is active on various social media channels. JCP will provide value content /host game + competitions in order to engage and build relationship with them. App is another way customers can access  the valuable content on their mobile device on the go. Easy to access and engaging.  JCP can also notify customers when certain item goes on sale. Everything posted on JCP’s online channels will be readily available in the store. Plus in-store expert guidance in fashion and life hacks to provide an integrated brand experience.

Social Media Influencers:

social media strategy for jcpenney

Everyday fashion and makeup artists on Social Media have great influence over  JCP’s target  customers’ fashion choice and purchase.

Youtube celebrities can easily incorporate JCP’s apparel and beauty products into their tutorial videos.

Fashion and Life Hack Blogs will be great for building awareness about some unique products from JCP and how these products can help save money.

Customer Journey:

First, customer needs can be triggered either by customers’ own needs or by JCP’s content via various channels. Then, different touch points and channels enhance customers’ journey toward purchases.

This is the customer lifecycle from customers’ awareness to advocate. Customers will be able to experience JCP’s different touch point throughout their lifecycle to truly enjoy the brand and become part of JCP community.

The goal of JCP’s various media channels help to turn customers from prospects to Brand Evangelists.


2018-03-01T02:40:11+00:00By |Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Cofounder of Siteber: a digital marketing professional with Master of Science in Marketing Analytics, specialize in SEO and Digital Analytics.

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