Really ‘Fair and Square’? How J.C. Penney Alienated a Valuable Customer
Much has been made about J.C. Penney's recent launch of its "Fair and Square" pricing policy (not to mention the controversy surrounding the retailer's decision to name Ellen DeGeneres as its new spokeswoman). In short, the policy's goal is to end shoppers’ confusion around multiple promotions, percent-off sales and coupons.
The cross-channel retailer announced it was permanently marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40 percent, making it easier for consumers who will no longer have to wait for sales or coupons to get the best deal. J.C. Penney now offers three prices for its merchandise: "Every Day," Month-Long Value" and "Best Prices," which are essentially clearance items.
Sounds great, right? As your typical last-minute, get-me-in-get-me-out male shopper who doesn't hunt for the best deals or use coupons (I know, it's stupid on my part), this move from J.C. Penney seemed brilliant. Give me the best deal without forcing me to do the work.
Not everyone agrees with me, however. While watching TV the other night with my wife Stephanie, an ad from J.C. Penney came on touting its new pricing policy. Her immediate response: it will never work. Confused, I tried my best to tell her why it was a good idea, bolstering my argument by the fact that the plan was conceived by Penney's new CEO Ron Johnson, of Apple retail fame, but she wouldn't budge on her opinion.
I asked her to explain to me why the "Fair and Square" policy wouldn't work. (Some background info on my wife: She's a shopaholic. There's nothing she'd rather do with her free time than spend it at the mall.) Upon telling her that I planned to use our discussion as the basis for my next blog post, she responded with the following: "Shoppers want to think they're getting a good deal. By taking advantage of sales and using coupons, they get that feeling. J.C. Penney claims it's offering "every day" low prices, which isn't true. It may fool the nonshopper, but not the shopper.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.