Our BLOG

Unexpected Takeaways From the Ad Club's CMO Breakfast with JCPenney

“Stylish women love JCPenney. Some of them just don’t know it yet.”

 

Like I had, you might be thinking, “Really now? Coming from a brand with a decades-old value first reputation?” Yes, really. Bear with me on this because I wasn’t buying it at first either, but there’s something fascinating here.

 

My expectations weren’t exactly clear walking into the AdClub CMO breakfast featuring Marci Grebstein, JCPenney’s recently appointed Chief Marketing Officer. In fact, I hadn’t heard much about JCPenney in recent advertising news at all. So, as I settled into my seat in the Google auditorium, I carried my perception of JCPenney as being an outdated brand with me. What followed in the next 60 minutes of Marci’s presentation radically shifted that perception, and propelled me into a state of furious notetaking.

Expectations: 0. Marci: 1.

As Marci spoke, my previous perceptions were countered by a surprising portrait of a progressive brand that has altered its messaging to meet the the modern American mom where she actually is, not where the rest of the world expects her to be.

 

How did JCPenney break from an old brand perception and arrive at their new strategic positioning? With Marci’s lead, the company invested in what many brands have yet to: critical brand perception research and journey mapping. They put in the work to better understand the modern American mom, their bullseye audience. The result? A clear picture of her values that transcend just standard demographics alone—

 

  • Convenience: She’s a working mom who doesn’t have a ton of time.
  • Family: She puts extra emphasis on family - her real family, work family, friend family. She loves spending time with them, especially when shopping.
  • Price: She’s on a tight budget, so finding style for less is important.

These newly pinpointed values exposed a critical insight that ultimately drove JCPenney’s brand repositioning: The modern American mom wants to find value without sacrificing style.

 

When you think of value forward, you might think Walmart or Kohl’s. When you think of style forward, you might think Nordstrom or Macy’s. To meet this mom where she is, JCPenney repositioned itself to exist at the intersection of both. This opportunistic white space was the driving force for a major shift in marketing communications—breaking from the old “Get your Penney’s worth” tagline, and transitioning to “Style and Value for All”, a nod to their diverse and value-driven audience.

 

JCPenney has since rolled out everything from new brand anthem spots touting their new messaging to fresh fashion, beauty, and influencer partnerships—all of which reflect a diverse range of people and lifestyles, centering on shared American values and family.

 

 

 

I applaud JCPenney’s efforts to get smart about their customer. It can be scary for brands, especially ones with long legacies, to step away from the standard. But JCPenney took these consumer insights as an opportunity to break free from the mold and instead represent who their customers really are—people of all different sizes, cultures, family types, and mindsets.

But wait, there’s more.

Extending beyond a commitment to reflecting their diverse consumer in their advertising, Marci confirmed the brand also puts strong emphasis on diversity in hiring. When I asked if JCPenney works to ensure that the multicultural woman they’re targeting is reflected in their work force and marketing decision makers, Marci met my question with enthusiastic appreciation.

 

She shared that she thinks diverse perspectives inevitably lead to stronger communication strategies—and that giving traditionally underrepresented populations in business a seat at the table is important to her. In support of this, she proudly shared that 60% of JCPenney’s decision makers are women, and growing numbers are racial minorities.

 

I’m of the belief that a sea of sameness yields more of the same. Strategies are elevated by the healthy tensions that diverse perspectives bring. And we need more of that.

 

null

The sometimes difficult, but always invaluable self-reflection that JCPenney embarked on with their brand perception and consumer research is something all of us as marketers can learn from while navigating the ever changing consumer landscape.

 

Want to check out Marci’s full presentation and decide for yourself? Watch the full presentation here: http://theadclub.org/cmo/jcpenney/

 


 

This blog post was written by:

Alyssa McBryar, Marketing Manager

Liz Lauzon, Assoc. Business Development Manager

 

Related Posts

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 23, 2020

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER SLOWS DOWN ROLL OUT OF FLEETS DUE TO 'PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY' CONCERNS' If you haven't got the new Twitter Stori... sorry, 'Fleets' option as yet, you may have to wait a little longer - according to Twitter, it's delaying the expanded roll-out of Fleets just a little bit due to performance and stability concerns. Read More INSTAGRAM LAUNCHES UPDATED UI FOR STANDALONE THREADS APP Instagram has announced a new update for its standalone Threads app, which despite seemingly not gaining massive traction is still holding on, a year after its initial release. Read More INSTAGRAM ADDS KEYWORD SEARCH IN ADDITION TO PROFILES AND TAGS Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags, and locations. Read More That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

Google Search Trends Insights October 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. October 2020 - We’re Almost Done With This Year Here we are, exploring the search trends of the tenth month of this bizarre, tumultuous year. Maybe someday in the future we can look back at these articles and get a good perspective of where we were as a country at this point in time. October started off with a bang when the President contracted COVID-19 and continued with more queries related to politics as the election got closer. There were plenty of sports queries to examine, as well, including ones related to two championships that occurred in October. There were a few holidays (official and unofficial) that drove keyword interest along with some spikes about Daylight Saving Time ending. Lastly, we saw two product names make the top 3 most queried keywords on the day they were released.  The 10 Million Plus Club For October 2020 This month, there was only one Google Doodle driving over 10 million queries in a day (Mary Ann Shadd). The other phrases were driven by news or other events of the day. Trump COVID - 10/1/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Eddie Van Halen - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Kamala Harris - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Mary Ann Shadd - 10/8/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Dak Prescott - 10/11/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Sean Connery - 10/31/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries As mentioned, the announcement of the President testing positive for COVID-19 drove the max number of queries as reported by Google Trends. The deaths of Eddie Van Halen and Sean Connery also drove users to search their names. Kamala Harris was the top keyword related to the Vice Presidential debate that happened on October 7th. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome compound right ankle fracture and dislocation during a game on the 11th.   A Google Doodle was created for Mary Ann Shadd in honor of what would have been her 197th birthday. She was the first Black female newspaper editor and publisher in North America and fought for abolition and women’s suffrage. The Number Of Politics Related Keywords Continues To Grow With the election coming up on November 3rd, the politics-related phrases increased again as compared to September and August. Here are the most important ones from last month: Trump - 10/1/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hope Hicks - 10/1/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Kayleigh McEnany - 10/5/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Pence Fly - 10/7/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries 25th Amendment - 10/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Trump town hall - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Hunter Biden - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries AOC - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Debate tonight - 10/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amy Coney Barrett - 10/26/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Excluding the two politics-related terms that made the 10 million+ club, this list contains the keywords that were queried the most in October. COVID-19 made its way through the White House early in the month, with the President and Hope Hicks being the first ones to get it. Then, Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for the virus. The fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head drove people to search as did the House seeking to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a president's Cabinet or Congress to intervene when a president is unable to conduct the duties of the office. The Trump town hall was queried more than the Biden one. On that same day, a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s business dealings piqued the interest of Google searchers. AOC joined Twitch on the 20th and the last presidential debate was a hot topic.  Finally, Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, which was almost a month to the day she was announced as a nominee (Amy Coney Barrett - 9/25/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries) For marketers, it is important to understand how much attention politics draws right before the election. For marketers trying to get their messages across, it may provide an opportunity with an increase in traffic to news sites.  Holidays, Time, and Blue Moons (not the beer) October had a good number of holidays that made our keyword list. Columbus Day is still a thing, so people are searching about it. Also, Amazon Prime Day got moved from July to last month because of the pandemic. Columbus Day 2020 - 10/11/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amazon Prime Day - 10/12/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Let’s see if the shift in dates had an effect on the search popularity of “amazon prime day” The interest on that phrase is down from July 2019 but the peak occurred in 2018. Halloween drove searches but so did the other phenomenon (both natural and man made) that happened at the end of the month. Halloween - 10/29/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Daylight savings time 2020 - 10/30/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Blue moon on Halloween - 10/30/2020 - 200,000+ queries Blue moon - 10/30/2020 - 500,000+ queries Daylight savings - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Certainly a blue moon that happens on Halloween is interesting and enough people have searched about full moons earlier in the year for those queries to make our list (Example: Strawberry Moon - 6/4/2020 - 500,000+queries) but the subject of Daylight Saving time driving not one but two phrases into the top 3 across two days is odd. It appears that no one cared when we turned the clocks forward back in the spring, but in October, it was a big deal! New Products There were two popular product releases in October 2020: iPhone 12 - 10/13/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hummer EV - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Now, an electric Hummer was probably a bit of a surprise but certainly any time a new iPhone is released, there is going to be people searching for it. Let’s look at how the 12 compared to other releases. The peak for “iphone” happened in 2012 with the release of the iPhone 5. We then took a look at how the most recent models compared to each. The iPhone 7 is the clear winner when we compared the model search terms with a timeframe of the last 5 years. Is the popularity of the iPhone decreasing? The level of search interest seems to be dwindling. We Are The Champions Of the 93 keyword phrases we collected in October 2020, 39 of them were sports related. The NFL made up most of the phrases but we thought we’d point out a few terms of other sports. UFC/Boxing: Lomachenko vs Lopez - 10/16/2020 - 500,000+ queries Khabib vs Gaethje - 10/23/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Clemson football Clemson football - 10/17/2020 - 200,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/29/2020 - 500,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries UEFA Champions League Soccer Champions League - 10/21/2020 - 500,000+ queries Juventus vs Barcelona - 10/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries It’s important to note that the search interest for sports – even ones that we may not think have mass appeal. We’re waiting until the American Cornhole League keywords start showing up in the daily top 3. The NBA and MLB had their championship series occur in October. The NBA is certainly more popular from a search perspective. Lakers - 10/6/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Lakers - 10/11/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries World Series - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/27/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Next month, we’ll report if the NFL’s popularity is continuing to increase. The early data for November suggest it is, but we’ll provide our analysis in December. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services,  Until next month.  

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 16, 2020

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER LAUNCHES NEW 'CAROUSELS' AD FORMAT OPTION Twitter announced a new addition to its ad format options: Carousels. With the launch of Twitter's new Carousels format, marketers can now add up to six images or videos in an ad. Read More FACEBOOK TESTS NEW OPTIONS TO ADD MOTION EFFECTS TO STILL IMAGES IN FEED Facebook is testing some new visual effects options for still images posted to News Feed, which add simulated, video-like movement to your pictures. Read More NEW REPORT PREDICTS THAT TIKTOK WILL SURPASS ONE BILLION USERS IN 2021 "TikTok has seen sharp growth in active users by amassing a sizable global footprint in 2020 — nearly tripling in size since 2018. In 2021, we expect TikTok to not only achieve a coveted spot in the 1 Billion monthly active users club, but to sail straight past to 1.2 billion." Read More That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.