EXCLUSIVE: JC Penney’s Ruby Anik Says the Department Store is the #1 Opportunity in Retail

Those who attended the Online Retailer Roadshow in Melbourne yesterday were lucky enough to hear Ruby Anik, most recently the Senior Vice President of brand marketing for the JC Penney Company Inc, say some surprising things about the future of retail. Anik spoke about the new JCP strategy in her talk: Revolutionising Retail. A holistic reinvention and reimagining of a Category and Brand: Relevant and Vibrant for another 100 years.

There were a few raised eyebrows in the room when Anik said that the department store is the number one opportunity in American retail. But with JCP’s new and – what some might call risky – initiatives, there appear to be opportunities galore when it comes to the department store.

The JCP brand has had a complete overhaul, shaking up not only its marketing strategy, but also the expectations of the American shopper. The brain behind these radical changes is JCP’s new CEO, Ron Johnson, who was previously the Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple and pioneered the concept of the Apple Retail Stores and the Genius Bar.

Last month, JCP unveiled its new logo, which was probably 
the least daring move the American department store has made in recent times! The logo change is part of a massive revamp which includes a new pricing strategy, dubbed “Fair and Square Pricing.” Rather than constant sales and discounts, there will be everyday prices, month-long values and best prices on the first and third Fridays of every month.

As Anik said, this sort of re-imagining of pricing structure is about developing trust and integrity in the brand. JCP previously spent more than US $1 billion in promotions, 99% of which were ignored by the public. In a gutsy move, JCP has now reduced the number of promotions from 590 per year to just 12. Annik referred to this as a “sea-change” and said that something had to be done about the “couponing mentality.” Not only were customers getting coupon-fatigue, but it was damaging their perception of the brand.

Anik explained that the new promotional rhythm aims to be in sync with customers’ lives. Rather than inundating the customer with a relentless series of sales, coupons, rebates and retail gimmicks (and training customers to feel cheated when they pay full price), each month will include better value on the things customers are looking to buy during that month. It’s about customers shopping when it is convenient for them, not when it’s expedient for JCP.

While Anik admits there is still a way to go when it comes to the American public making the shift in shopping mentality, it helps when Ellen is your spokesperson:

So will this new strategy pay off? Will we see Macy’s, Nordstrom, Myer and David Jones follow suit? Only time will tell.

Some tickets are still available for the Sydney event this Friday. Go to: www.onlineretailerroadshow.com.au/register

2 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: JC Penney’s Ruby Anik Says the Department Store is the #1 Opportunity in Retail

    • James Penney
    • 4th July

    Ruby was a lazy gladhander who did nothing in her years with JCP. I should know, I worked down the hall from her. She is certainly smart, but after she was fired it was clear she had done no damage, had made no gains, and in fact, had done very close to zero during her tenure. She was in the office very little, and only after being let go was it clear she had been paid millions to attend an occasional meeting, present an occasional award, and speak at the occasional Online Retailer Roadshow. Good work if you can get it.

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