Back in 2011 I wrote a blog post titled “Dangers of Retail Ambiguity”. I argued that PacSun risks diminishing their own brand through adding a multitude of brands to their portfolio that do not cohesively fit in with the PacSun story.
JCPenney is faced with a similar dilemma. The brand has been the focus of criticism including the brand’s ‘no-sales’ and everyday low prices. Most of the existing articles on JCPenney recognize the challenges of this approach. However, the brand’s approach is backwards. Inculcating a new belief system into the existing consumer base prior to a more holistic overhaul in the JCPenney brand and in-store experience simply gives the impression of a short-lived campaign – despite a long-term intention of the new pricing approach.
The brand’s challenge is much broader. Instead of simply “re-mixing” the brand by doing away with coupons, the company must give their consumers a reason to frequent JCPenney that goes beyond a modified pricing approach.
Their “brand specific” spaces within the retail environment are a noble approach to target a wider audience, while creating an intimate experience for the consumer. Sustaining a wider consumer base, yet focusing the brand on certain consumer segments will be difficult, as the necessity for JCPenney to avoid the trap of “retail ambiguity” has never been more relevant.