If you strolled through any JC Penney stores in the past year or so you might have noticed the new look they’ve been sporting. The stores received a makeover under the direction of CEO Ron Johnson, formerly of Apple fame, who was hired in 2010 and tasked with giving the brand a boost. Some people really liked the new look and feel of the stores, but JCP’s core customers are deal seekers, and when their coupons and sales were taken away from them, it took some of the fun out of the hunt for a bargain. Sales plummeted, stock values fell, and Ron Johnson was replaced by his predecessor, Mike Ullman. It will soon be F Troop back to normal at JC Penney stores across the nation.
This wasn’t the first time JC Penney made significant changes. However, it was the first time they did it in all of their stores without testing a few first. That’s a major difference between Apple and JC Penney – Apple is famous for using intuition to anticipate what customers want while JC Penney had historically relied on testing to guide them. In response to the disappointment expressed by faithful JC Penney customers, and the correlating decline in revenue, JCP is now beckoning their customers back to its stores with a new television campaign saying, “Come back to JC Penney, we heard you.”
The lesson here is that it pays to test your market before you make major across-the-board changes.