The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

JCP Begs Customers to Come Back in a New TV Commercial

I don't watch many commercials these days thanks to modern-day TV-watching conveniences, but last night I happened to catch a new JCPenney commercial that made my jaw absolutely drop. In the commercial, titled "It's No Secret," JCP apologizes to customers for the changes they've made in recent months and practically begs shoppers to come back. It made me feel uncomfortable to see such a big brand behave so desperately, but at the same time, I knew exactly what they were trying to accomplish. Poor JCP's sales have plummeted ever since they tried to offer customers everyday low prices while eliminating things like coupons and sales. As it turns out, shoppers are not rational. They don't want everyday low prices - they want deals! And so, JCP is changing course once again by raising prices and bringing back sales and coupons. Sounds crazy cakes, doesn't it? And yet that's how things have played out.

This quote from ScienceNews sums up the entire situation perfectly: "We see a $14 shirt, and conclude based on its price that it must be a low-quality garment made in a sweatshop somewhere by overworked, underpaid workers. On the other hand, seeing a red line through the $50 price tag on a shirt that's marked down to $14 indicates to us that the shirt is of high quality and that for $14, it is a steal."

I love a good deal, too, don't get me wrong, but at some point - maybe it was the early 2000s - I noticed that my $30 t-shirt from the Gap was just as lousy as my $6 t-shirt from Forever 21. So I stopped shopping at the Gap, waiting for sales, etc. and started shopping at Forever 21. I still get a kick out of seeing a red line tag or scouring the clearance racks at Target (I'm only human after all) but the rush isn't as big. My time is more important now-a-days, so I'd rather just be able to shop low prices all the time at JCP and not have to fuss with sales or coupons, be they mobile, printable or online. Apparently, I'm in the minority.

What do you think of JCP's new ad? Have you seen it? Will it woo you back? Were you rooting for the new JCP to succeed?
JCPenney begs shoppers to come back in a new TV commercial

Last year I needed two cocktail dresses. A friend suggested JCP and my jaw dropped.

Well, I heeded her suggestion and found six really, really cute dresses! It was so hard to decide. I kept two and have worn them multiple times to events and weddings.

It opened my eyes to go back to JCP. While the store still FEELS like an old school department store (Sears too), they have cute things at great prices.

The ad made me kinda sad too. I want stores like that to stay open.
#1 Kristin S (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 10:01 (Reply)
I agree... I stopped shopping at a lot of those places too. Mostly keep an eye out for sales, go to TJ Maxx and Marshalls and buy a lot of the staples at Target. A splurge is fun, but why pay that much more for something that isn't necessarily better quality?
#2 Lauren (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 10:32 (Reply)
I absolutely loved JCP's new kick. It's a real shame they couldn't hold out on that. I hate upticking on the price, then having to wait around for a coupon or feeling gipped if you don't happen to remember it (a la Kohl's).

Whenever I needed a specific item, but didn't want to shop around, I went to JCP (pearl stud earrings, certain color cami/shirt, etc). I wanted to buy one in every color of their cardigans, but they sold out of talls online :-(

As a person with textile background, those JCP things are actually decently well made at that price point. It's a huge shame.
#3 Stacy on 2013-05-03 11:07 (Reply)
Totally agree about Gap prices vs. F21 - I usually think all these clothes are coming from the same factories and some places just jack up prices. I'd rather get the "cheaper" one right off the bat and not feel as bad when it falls apart!
#4 Amanda on 2013-05-03 11:22 (Reply)
I actually liked their lower-prices, no coupon strategy better!
#5 Rachel (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 11:35 (Reply)
I loved JCP's revamp with the "no coupon" policy. I think they ran into issues that their target demo (really the 40+ crowd) LOVES a "sale". They love watching for coupons, waiting for a markdown and then they feel like they get a good deal. It's that generation that really built JCP to what they became in the 1st place and when Penney's overhauled themselves to attract a younger market (by redesigns on stores, "changing" their name to "JCP",adding Sephoras, denim bars, in addition to the "no sales" policy), the older generation felt cheated. It's a shame it didn't work out because I think if people would've really thought it through, they would've seen they were still getting the best price and good quality without having to wait around. I think if JC Penney would've thought it through, they would've still offered coupons and probably just done the redesign on the store itself. Let this be a blue print for Kohl's to stick with coupons, early bird sales and Kohl's Cash, lest their die hard customer leave. Penney's was trying so hard not to die out like Sear's has they spurred it on anyway. Hopefully people do go back. This is a lesson in, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
#6 Sarah on 2013-05-03 12:04 (Reply)
I think my problem is that I've gotten so used to getting promotions and coupons that I always tend to assume that I can get things for cheaper, even if the original price is already affordable.

So I never settle on shopping full prices anywhere because I know there's probably a promotion or sale going on or will be soon. If I miss it, a similar promotion will probably be going soon.

But my days of rushing to use a coupon are long gone. Since there are so many options for the similar quality these day, I know I'm bound to find what I'm looking for the price I'm willing to pay somewhere.
#7 Shahar (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 12:07 (Reply)
I liked the new direction they were going in--hadn't been to a JCP since high school & when they started introducing new brands and a revamped layout, I popped in a few times out of curiosity. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the changes. I love a good deal as much as anyone else, but don't always want to wait for special coupons or sales. It's a shame they are going back to the old ways!
#8 Justyna (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 14:27 (Reply)
I have high hopes for JC Penney, but they need to decide who their target market is and stick with it. You can't appeal to the boomer crowd who buys elastic waist pants and also a younger crowd who wants an in-store Sephora.

Their brands are stylish and the quality is far better than anything at Forever21 and H&M. They may be bringing back sales, which is fine, but they need to decide quickly on who they are serving. I think the smart money is on the younger, 20s/30s crowd who shops often.

Just my 2 cents ;-)
#9 Nicole @theWardrobeCode (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 16:15 (Reply)
It's such a shame their revamp was misinterpreted, because every time I'm in JCP, I'm impressed at the original prices. Even my very favorite stores start things at double or triple what JCP does!
#10 Heather, Clearance Couture (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 16:35 (Reply)
I agree in my teens I viewed them as an elderly store. I wouldn't be caught wearing anything there. After they intro'd contemporary lines I started shopping there. Now they have great options for me and my mom. I'm 25 btw, my Mom's in her 50's and she felt cheated without coupons. I liked their new model of not using coupons and just slashing prices across all depts. Much less of a hassle and honestly, better deals. I hope they continue their great jewelry deals and not cut the contemporary lines like: Charlotte Ronson, MNG, Nicole Miller... etc. Sephora (so convenient). Now I view them as easy to shop for the entire family.
#11 Jadorezrg on 2013-05-03 16:36 (Reply)
I'm also sad they don't hold out on the new approach. I think it is absolutely silly to mark items up and need coupons and sales. I'd love to see JCP's doors stay open and I hope more people understand they are trying to take out all the hype and just give you a fair price in the first place.
#12 Holly (Homepage) on 2013-05-03 22:46 (Reply)
The overall problem was the moron ex-CEO thought the solution to JCPenney's problems was to switch out its customer base for another one that's younger, hipper, and more affluent. The most common complaints I saw were 1) no coupons or sales and 2) many of the traditional brands that appealed to long-time customers were no longer available. In other words, "Where the hell's my St. John's Bay?!"
#13 lazypadawan on 2013-05-03 22:52 (Reply)
In my opinion,JCPenney' s failure has little to do with coupons and sales versus everyday low prices and everything to do with forgetting who their loyal shoppers were. They removed their best store brands and changed their stores looks so they are unrecognizable. For what? To attract a younger client who doesn't spend as much? And their sales plummet. Duh.
#14 Wanda on 2013-05-04 01:06 (Reply)
I whole heartedly agree with you!!! I became addicted to JCP when they changed up their brands and the prices couldn't be beat! People are crazy sometimes. I haven't yet talked to one person who thinks this recent change is a good idea. An example of the result of the pricing change...I ordered a jacket online for $35. I took it to a JCP to exchange after the price changes had occurred. It was $46!!! Even with a 20% off coupon, which seems to be their standard, it would still cost more than it did prior to the price changes....utterly crazy if you do the math!
#15 DL Stinedurf on 2013-05-04 07:14 (Reply)
This is a really interesting conversation. I shop a lot, mostly b/c I have 2 girls, 3 and 7. I have to say I never shopm@ JCP, but have recently been intrigued by the Joe Fresh line. Sephora has been there for almost 10 years btw. I like coupons b/c they can get you a better price and bargaining power. I needed to get my girls leggings and they were about $9 at the gap, but I found them the same day, in better colors at Old Navy for about $3.50. Both stores were offering "30%" off, but the gap picks and chooses what they'll let you use your coupon on so I walked out. I swear those leggings came from the same plant. I plan on looking at JCP for myself and girls in the future, and the coupons are important b/c ppl want to feel like if they make an effort they can get a better price.
#16 Sara on 2013-05-04 07:57 (Reply)
Regarding the kids and infant/toddler dept, this is one of my favorite deptments. I often come here for cute outfits for my neice and nephew. These kids are very active and the clothes hold up better than some I've purchased elsewhere. Cute designs, affordable too especially for basics. When they enacted the changes prices were incredible, $6-$10 for kid jeans they'd often go on sale a few wks after for less than $5! In my opinion, JCP has always been good value for kids clothes and shoes.
#16.1 jadorezrg on 2013-05-04 16:59 (Reply)
I boycott JCP but it has nothing to do with their changes. I work in the apparel industry and JCP is one of our major customers -- and they are terrible to work with. Their business practices with their vendors are appalling, I can only assume they are as bad with their customers but don't want to sacrifice my own $$ to find out.
#17 MEP on 2013-05-04 11:07 (Reply)
Is it just me, or did that commercial make the rest of you choke up?

Also, I personally love JCP's marketing strategy of everyday low prices as opposed to the "sales" that everyone else has. I have no idea why they're doing so badly.
#18 Amy on 2013-05-04 19:52 (Reply)
I am in the minority too. I liked their lower prices. I don't look at a price tag and thought because the top was $4 meant it was bad quality. I look at the quality of the fabric and look at the tag to see what is it made out of. I even found stuff that was cheaper than Forever 21 and had better quality! I wanted the Bisou Bisou peplum tops for $10 and they're sold out, but more expensive and is made out of thin fabric at Forever 21.

This might have been due to my past experience working in retail, so I know that the average consumer will only look at prices, coupons, and sales in stead of the whole package.
#19 Elizabeth on 2013-05-04 20:37 (Reply)
Definitely loved the lower prices all the time model! I find it exhausting to have to paw through coupons constantly, or to buy something and see a 40% off coupon three days later. Then I have to run back and beg for an adjustment, or buy and return. So aggravating.

After my local store remodeled, I stopped by and I was shocked at how cute their stuff was. The Joe Fresh line is really great. I recently went dress shopping at JCP, and came home with two dresses that I love, and both were under $20. Also snagged an awesome thin neon sweater for $8 on clearance.

They ought to market to late 20s to early 40s, people who are past the hyper-trendy Forever 21 and crap-quality Old Navy, but maybe don't have enough cash for the $$$ stores like Loft and JCrew - which seem to be my only other options as a 32 y/o. H&M is quite successful with that age group, too.

I don't know why this isn't more successful. It makes me sad for them.
#20 Claudia on 2013-05-05 01:12 (Reply)
I won't shop there for the simple reason they don't have anything I would want to buy. I can buy these styles of clothes anywhere, replicate these looks with anything.
#21 Shan Shan on 2013-05-05 02:56 (Reply)
I get annoyed with stores that play the coupon game (Kohl's, Macy's are you listening?) so I liked the JCP pricing. I'm busy, I'd rather pay a fair price and be on my way instead of having to return again with the coupon.

I'd also add that at my mall the JCP is a much better managed store than Macy's. The dressing rooms are clean, and you don't have to wander all over looking for a cashier with someone there.

I suspect that the new management, whoops - the old management that's come back, will end up reaping the benefits of the big change.
#22 GingerR on 2013-05-05 15:15 (Reply)
I didn't mind the fixed pricing theme but when they did that the quality of the clothes went down considerably. Cheap thin scratchy fabrics. They can price it at $1 an item and I still wouldn't consider it worth of giving up the closet space....
#23 hipmomof3 on 2013-05-05 21:55 (Reply)
This is the exact comment I was going to make. They simultaneously changed their pricing structure AND their quality/brands. A lot of people assume it was the pricing, but for me the problem was quality went way down and I was getting better quality at Target and other stores. I never minded their pricing, preferred it actually.
#23.1 Elizabeth on 2013-05-06 12:41 (Reply)
This is a very good point. I guess customers who hadn't shopped at JCP in years wouldn't have known what the quality was like before.

We used to shop at JCP all the time when I was growing up but then the mall that housed it went downhill, neighborhood changed and JCP ultimately closed its doors (The Brickyard Mall for those who grew up on Chicago's north west side).

But I digress - rumor has it JCP is bringing back St. John's Bay so maybe they are beginning to listen to their core customer base.
#23.1.1 The Budget Babe on 2013-05-07 09:01 (Reply)
I have been a loyal JCP customer for years, even though I had to dig through tons of older generation clothes to find items that fit my style. (I'm currently 36) I LOVED the fixed prices because it meant I didn't have to wait until a stupid sale to use a coupon to get the fair price on an item, etc. I don't think people realize that now, with the coupons, etc. they are actually spending more money. It totally baffles me.

I have heard several complaints about them taking St. John's Bay out, and I get that, along with the selection apparently not being as plentiful as before. I'm sure the inventory isn't as heavy as before to increase the aesthetic of the store (which I appreciate) and therefore stores are a LOT less cluttered and tacky looking and look much nicer!

I will still shop there, too, because I have many core items of my wardrobe from there that have lasted over time, despite the reputation that their items are cheaply made, etc.
#24 Andie (Homepage) on 2013-05-09 10:57 (Reply)
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