Marketers keep forgetting this one true fact..

Marketers keep forgetting this one true fact..

…as consumers, we loooove a deal. 

I was reading Forbes’ recent story about the ouster of Michael Francis, President of J.C. Penney and I was reminded of my intense dislike  of JCP’s new advertising campaign, an immensely unpopular opinion back in January.  Unfortunately I was right. The company is in turmoil, sales are dismal and heads are rolling.

JCP’s ads didn’t sell anything because they, like Saturn before them, forgot that we absolutely love a deal.

My friend Craig and I regularly try to one-up each other on our steals we find at the “best” Goodwill in town, often brand new, designer label clothing that some rich person bought and never wore. My mother is a die-hard Herberger’s fan and regularly uses their coupons to buy “this fantastic amazing shirt for $7” that I have to hear about for at least 30 minutes.  We just got through a recession for goodness sake and people are still hurting financially.  When we buy something, we better know it’s a great goddamn deal.  

I have four questions for J.C. Penney: 

  1. Did no one at this giant retailer realize that trends toward couponing were booming? In fact, shoppers received 12.2% more in coupon savings in 2011 than in 2010, according to Nielsen  Shoppers redeemed $4.6 billion in coupon savings in 2011.
  2. Did no one  realize that in order to move older inventory you need sales?
  3. Did no one realize that by backpedaling and adding “Best Price Friday Sales” just a short while after introducing the new policy, shoppers would feel as though they had been lied to?
  4. Did Michael Francis learn nothing at Target except for  hubris?

Listen, I don’t like to stomp all over someone’s failure. I’ve had a few of my own. I was actually working at J.C. Penney when they re-branded from Penney’s and it was a fresh, smart campaign that retained old customers and brought in new ones. They should bring that guy back and have him run marketing again. Although he’s probably dead by now.