What Happened to JC Penny? 10 Marketing Lessons
What Happened to JC Penny? 10 Marketing Lessons
JCPenney was one of the largest and most successful department store chains in the country, with more than a thousand brick-and-mortar locations, as discussed in detail over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. In recent years, they have fallen into trouble however, which culminated in their filing of bankruptcy on the 15th of May this year, 2020. So, what happened to them that they went from being so successful to declining so massively they’ve had to file for bankruptcy? This article is going to look to answer this question through the following 10 marketing lessons we can learn from their decline.
One of the reasons that have been attributed to the decline of JCPenney is the growth of online shopping, with more and more people preferring to shop online, which has led to the growth of Amazon and such online retail platforms as discussed over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. Shopping on online stores has brought with it numerous benefits to consumers, such as increased convenience, which has unfortunately reduced the fortunes of brick-and-mortar stores such as JCPenney. A marketing lesson to learn here is the importance of having an online store in the current age.
Going to the mall is no longer popular
There was a time when going to the mall was the “it” thing, with people of all ages preferring to go to the mall to shop and for meals with friends and family. However, in recent years, this is no longer the case, fueled partially with the growth of online ordering which has meant that folks can order anything, including food at the comfort of their homes, and therefore they don’t feel the need to go to the mall. This, as per the gurus over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, has fueled the decline of JCPenney whose early success owed a lot to the “mall” phenomenon. As a marketing lesson, we should always move with the times, and adapt to every change.
It lost its identity
Part of the reason why JCPenney was so successful is that it used to be the store for middle-income families, and particularly when it came to men, women, and children’s wear as well as home goods as discussed over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. All of a sudden, they decided that they needed to bring in new demographics, by adding other services that were not their core. This didn’t work well, as it led to them losing their identity, and slowly but surely, they started to lose customers and the decline started. An important marketing lesson we can take from this is that one should always be aware of their core audience and what makes you successful and ensure that you don’t move away from it unnecessarily.
JCPenney’s problems can also be traced back to poor leadership, and mostly to the poor decisions made by the CEO, Ron Johnson, who took over the reins in 2011 as per discussions over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. He just didn’t seem to get anything right, with every decision he took appearing to backfire. A marketing tip we can take from this is the importance of good leadership and making the right decisions when running your marketing campaigns. Poor leadership can undermine even the best products.
Copy-pasting what had previously worked in other companies
One of the things the CEO, Ron Johnson got wrong, is that he tried to copy and paste the strategies that had worked for him at his previous post at Apple. Mr. Johnson thought that by copying his previous tactics, he will be able to recreate the success he had with the Apple store. However, this was not to be, with most of these tactics failing to have the desired impact. This mostly had to do with the fact that the two were two different companies with different audiences. A marketing lesson we can take from this is the importance of not copy-pasting strategies that are successful for other companies or brands. Just because it worked for others doesn’t mean it will work for you.
It wasn’t fun to shop at a JCPenney’s anymore
As per the gurus over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, one of the reasons people will still go to a brick-and-mortar store, and forego the convenience of online shopping, is so they can have fun shopping. You get to browse the isles, see what is on sale and discover hidden gems as far as clothing and the likes are concerned. However, the changes made by the new CEO meant that shopping at a JCPenney’s was no longer fun, and this meant that more and more people lost the appetite to go and shop over there. a marketing lesson we can learn from this is the importance of user experience as far as our campaigns are concerned.
They never run test runs on their ideas
Another reason why JCPenney declined is the fact that they rolled out all of their changes, such as removing discounts, rebranding to target a younger market among others, as discussed over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, in all of their shops at once. This means that when things went wrong, they couldn’t react, having gone all in. They would have been best served to prototype their changes in one of their stores, and see how they will be accepted, taking feedback from their customers and perfecting their strategy until it was ready to be rolled out universally. As a marketing lesson, this shows the importance of testing your products or strategies before rolling them out fully.
They went away from what made them attractive to the eyes of their customers
There is no denying that many people who shopped at JCPenney were attracted to their discounts and coupons, according to discussions on the same over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. Once they went away from this and decided to shift to a “fair price” or “best price” strategy, they were no longer attractive to their base, who slowly and surely began to leave. A marketing lesson we can learn from this is the importance of knowing what it is that attracts your customers to you and making sure you don’t pivot away from it.
Declining customer service
It also didn’t help that with the change in leadership also came changes in the workforce, which many felt led to a decline in the levels of customer service. The customer service went down significantly, something many customers began to complain about as revealed in discussions over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. This contributed to driving customers away and is a lesson we can learn from them as it shows the importance of customer service and making your customers feel like they matter.
JCPenney also never really communicated the changes they were making very well with their customers, particularly to changes made to pricing. Many of their customers were left confused as to what they were trying to achieve, which left them feeling cheated and therefore began to leave. The marketing lesson we can take here is the importance of putting up clear messages for your audience when running your campaigns, particularly when it comes to any changes you are looking to make.