May 6, 2013

J.C. Penny is the marketing story that just keeps giving.  Now new management is trying to do something that Netflix did it when they raised their prices and then rolled them back. Coke did it decades ago when New Coke failed. J.C. Penney wants a marketing do-over and is saying they are sorry and want you back.

That’s the social media pitch on YouTube and Facebook with the firm’s “It’s No Secret” campaign showing women working, playing with their children and doing everyday activities. “Recently J.C. Penney changed,” a voiceover states. “Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t. But what matters with mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you. Come back to J.C. Penney. We heard you; now we’d love to see you.”

Interestingly, Penney knew 17 months ago that their core customers didn’t like Ron Johnson’s changes. As reported in this blog numerous times, they had plenty of research and comments from customers that clearly indicated that “traditional” customers didn’t like the new JCP (they are also tossing that re-brand, going back to J.C. Penney). But they also had comments that a lot of new people were now shopping for the first time at JCP.

That’s the big question with a marketing do-over. How do you keep your new customers while appealing to customers that left you because you disrespected them – when both groups may want something different?

That’s why consumers and marketing insiders are mixed on whether the retailer’s latest efforts are savvy marketing or destined to cause more damage. An online AdAge poll showed that 70% of marketing folks think asking for “forgiveness” is a good idea and that Penney is on the right track. But what changes are they going to make? If you say you are listening, you’d better show proof that you are.

What do you think? I would love to hear your views on the new campaign.

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