Insights

JC Penney Roots

JC Penney

On Feb 1st, JC Penney unveiled its new pricing strategy and service policies called Fair and Square. JC Penney describes it as three kinds of pricing, one happy return policy. It got our attention for a couple reasons.

Simplicity of message: The three kinds of pricing are everyday low pricing, month-long values and best prices. The “best prices” will happen on the 1st and 3rd fridays of every month.

Leadership change: Ron Johnson used to be the Senior VP of Retail for Apple and is now the CEO of JC Penney. He helped shape the Apple Store concept and Genius Bar.

At first blush, we could rush to say that Johnson is trying to simplify the JC Penney brand to mimic Apple, but that might be overly simplifying the issue. It may also be the easy cynical thing to say. What I would hope be more likely correct is that Johnson is getting JC Penney back to its DNA.

JC Penney was established first in 1904 as The Golden Rule store. Later in 1913, the company re-incorporated as JC Penney, named after the partner James Cash Penney who bought out the interest of the other two, Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan. It has since grown to over 1,100 stores nationwide with anchors in malls.

According to the Ascension Research Center, Penney envisioned a chain of stores across the Rockies based on His business philosophies and the revolutionary idea of charging a flat price to all customers regardless of social status and class.

Is the Fair and Square program Johnson’s attempts to get JC Penney back to its core DNA? Knowing who you are is the first step in establishing Service with Boundaries.

Only time will tell. We’ll be watching.