(ed. – The following editorial was written by David Weiss, President of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland, who wrote a previous blog post predicting consumer reaction to J.C. Penney’s new pricing strategy over a year ago. To see that article, click here.)
About a year ago I expressed trepidation that J. C. Penney’s new everyday (“fair and square”) pricing gambit could fall flat. The chain’s bold move ran up against decades of consumer conditioning – to react in Pavlovian fashion to the word “sale.”
Everyone knows or should know that an item’s “original” price (that’s the one you see on the price tag atop the first – or second – sale price reduction) is a price frequently established strictly to make subsequent sale pricing more enticing. Many retailers make only a small percentage of their sales at this “original” price.
A year later, J. C. Penney is struggling. Apparently, many of the store’s core customers don’t appreciate Penney’s attempt to restore integrity to retail pricing as much as I do. And the “new” customers who were supposed to be driven by the store’s upscale merchandising and fair pricing aren’t busting down Penney’s doors.
I suspect Penney’s anticipated that their road to success would be a rocky one. Social marketing campaigns take time to catch on, especially when they’re fighting consumer headwinds that took decades to build. Those of us who bemoan use of the ubiquitous “MSRP” and the mind games that can flow from use of rigged price comparisons hope that J. C. Penney won’t give up. Stay the course, J. C. – we can always hope that consumers will see the light at the end of the aisle.