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Positioning a Brand: What JCP Did Wrong

By definition, positioning a brand is what you do to cement your brand identity in the mind of your customers/target market. Unfortunately, it tends not to work so well when you a) don’t do your research and b) confuse your customers.

Around this time last year, JC Penney rolled out a new “enough is enough” ad campaign as part of its rebranding and positioning strategy.  They screamed to the world that they were going to change their entire pricing structure so that sales and coupons would be obsolete.  (No more coupons people, just great everyday prices! No more sales, just great everyday prices! )

Fair and Square pricing

Unfortunately, JC Penney’s didn’t do their research prior to rebranding and this new marketing didn’t resonate with their core customer base.  To the price conscious shoppers who frequented JC Penney, (aka their core customers) it sounded more like all the deals were going away.   These core customers loved their coupons and sales so they stopped shopping at Penney’s when Penney’s stopped offering coupons and sales.

This was not the Penney’s brand they had grown to love.

New JCP logo

They also rolled out a new hip and cool “JCP” square logo in many of their print and TV ads. The JCP square was to go along with their new “fair and square” pricing, meant to emphasize that there was no need to jump through hoops or wait for those crazy clearance sales! When this “fair and square” policy didn’t go over well with loyal customers, Penney’s started  sneaking clearance sales back in after their huge drop in revenue during 2012; going against their positioning and confusing their brand identity.

In fact, it seems like everything they’re doing lately is only helping to further confuse their core customer base. When positioning a brand, it’s important to stay consistent, which Penney’s hasn’t. Confused customers will shop somewhere else that doesn’t make their brain hurt. Customers who like coupons will find another store that offers coupons. If you’re going to revamp your image, do your research and figure out what your customers want. Otherwise, you’ll just confuse your customers.

One Response

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