Penney Seeks ‘Really Cool’ Status
By George Anderson
Anna Garlington didn’t expect to buy anything other than underwear for her daughters when she visited her local J.C. Penney, reports BusinessWeek. But, she had a coupon
in hand for a pair of gauchos and she thought she’d check them out. Her response after inspecting the item was exactly what the company wants to hear whenever its name and brands
are mentioned: “Really cool.”
Penney CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman sees big things ahead for the chain and believes the company’s strategy aligns perfectly with the market opportunity.
For one thing, said Mr. Ullman, consumer demographics are on Penney’s side. “Forty-two percent of consumer spending is within our target market,” he said.
The company has also embarked on a differentiation strategy that is more like a national brand strategy than typical private label positioning. Mr. Ullman is looking to use Penney’s
private labels to connect emotionally with consumers. “We looked at them more as labels,” he said.
This core branding strategy was started by his successor, Allen Questrom, and has been built upon during Mr. Ullman’s tenure. According to BusinessWeek, Penney has divided
its fashion merchandise to fit four basic fashion preferences: conservative, traditional, modern and trendy. By dividing assortments along these lines, the retailer has been able
to directly appeal to shoppers who typically go to specialty stores for their clothing.
Moderator’s Comment: What most impresses you about J.C. Penney? Where do you see opportunities for the chain moving ahead? –
George Anderson – Moderator