Archive

Posts Tagged ‘jc penney’

The Not-So-Jolly Holiday Outlook for JC Penney Shoppers

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

2012 hasn’t been kind to JC Penney. And, it doesn’t appear that Q4 will get any better for the department store, which has struggled to shake up its stodgy image this year and in the process has rattled its core customer base. According to the Prosper Spending Index, JC Penney shoppers’ outlook for holiday gift spending falls below that of the general population, with an index of 95.9 (baseline index = 100).* Among JC Penney shoppers with holiday spending plans in mind, two in five (44.2%) plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year than they did for 2011, while fewer than one in ten (7.4%) plan to spend more.

As could be expected, the holiday spending outlook is similar among those shopping Walmart (index = 94.4). Still, a slightly larger proportion of shoppers at the discounter, known to cater to more cash-strapped, lower income households, plans to spend more for the upcoming holiday season (9.5%) compared to JC Penney shoppers (7.4%).

Among the customers analyzed, shoppers at Macy’s, a retailer which has arguably benefited from JC Penney’s EDLP strategy switch-up, maintain the most positive outlook on holiday gift spending, with a Prosper Spending Index of 110.9. TJ Maxx loyalists also hold a brighter-than-average outlook (index = 106.3). Target (102.4) and Kohl’s (101.0) shoppers’ holiday spending plans are in line with the overall average.

So we know JC Penney shoppers will be trying to cut back on their holiday gift spending this year, but just how do they intend to accomplish this?

Memo to Ron Johnson: Your shoppers (or what’s left of them) are still motivated to buy based on sales and coupons.

Among JC Penney customers, nearly half say they are shopping for sales more often (45.4%) and/or are clipping coupons (42.1%) in efforts to help balance their budgets – higher than the overall average. Among the retailers mentioned, Kohl’s shoppers – rabid for that Kohl’s Cash – are the only ones eclipsing both of these figures.

With economic uncertainty pervading consumer mindsets, today’s shoppers – JC Penney’s included – continue to possess an innate need to feel good about spending their hard earned dollars, particularly when it comes to spending on those not-so-essentials like gifts and apparel. And in shoppers’ “feel-good” toolkit are coupons, weekly promos, and special sales. These items are, of course, generally absent from JC Penney’s promotional strategy – setting the department store up for additional customer loss during the critical holiday season.

Think about it like this: getting a $60 sweater on sale for $30 is something to write home tweet about. Simply buying a sweater for the $30 ticket price? It’s a little ho-ho-hum.

* Holiday outlook insights are based on celebrants who have holiday spending plans in mind.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Advertisements

Amazon #1 In Customer Service, But Will This Lead To Sustainable Loyalty?

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Recently our friends over at the National Retail Federation directed us to Amazon.com, where Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had once again posted a public letter to customers, this time stating:

I’m happy to report that Amazon has been rated #1 in the National Retail Federation Customers’ Choice Awards…

Why were we excited to see this? BIGinsight compiled the list of Customers’ Choice Award recipients for the NRF Foundation, which was unveiled at their BIG Show earlier this year. These awards recognize the retailers that provide the “best” customer service and were nominated through an unaided, write-in question by (who else?) consumers.

2011 Customers’ Choice Awards: Top Ten (source: NRF Foundation)

  1. Amazon.com
  2. L.L. Bean
  3. Zappos.com
  4. Overstock.com
  5. QVC
  6. Kohl’s
  7. Lands’ End
  8. JC Penney
  9. Newegg.com
  10. Nordstrom

Customer service in the conventional sense has generally implied face-to-face communication: greeting a customer; providing him/her with product information, demonstrations, additional options, or size assistance; suggesting add-ons or complementary products; and finally, completing the sale. Historically, the best opportunity to cultivate great customer relationships is within an environment where personal interaction between the retailer (i.e. sales associates) and customers is at its peak: a physical store.

So does it surprise you that a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer didn’t top this year’s list? Further, just three of the retailers (Kohl’s, JC Penney, Nordstrom) who graced the top 10 aren’t primarily entrenched in e-commerce, catalog selling, or home shopping.

So how does Amazon rank #1 in customer service?

The digital age has forced the evolution of customer service. In a world where emails and texts have replaced more intimate forms of communication, where shoppers can complete a sale 24/7 via online transactions, and where showrooming is linking the physical shopping experience with the virtual, the modern definition of customer service seems to have downgraded the importance of direct human interaction. And, let’s not forget that customer service in the traditional sense has also been crippled in recent years by an economy fostering a trend toward part-time, minimum wage, less “invested” sales associates.

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon has been a driving force behind the e-commerce movement and changing standards for customer service excellence. Some of the words consumers used in their reasons to nominate Amazon for Customers’ Choice included “efficient,” “fast,” “reliable,” “no hassle,” “easy,” and of course, “free shipping.” Note that these terms differ vastly from those who nominated Nordstrom, THE purveyor of traditional customer service: “experience,” “friendly,” “personal,” and “knowledgeable.” [More specific reasons can be found here for each retailer included in the top 10.]

Consider too the e-commerce services that online shoppers (a growing group) value. While the majority indicates that toll free “live” customer service very important or important, this figure has declined nearly 10% from 2007. With customers increasingly gravitating to such services as low prices, free shipping, and easy to use websites over the past few years, it’s obvious that verbal communication isn’t a service prerequisite when it comes to buying online.

Important/Very Important Services when Shopping Online

But are Amazon’s low prices, free shipping, and efficient turnaround enough to capture sustainable customer loyalty? After all, the troubled economy did create a new consumer – one who shops around, is value-oriented, and may find it increasingly difficult to create ties with one retailer over another.

One of the most fascinating parts of the retail industry is that we are always looking toward for what’s “next” – hot new trends, advancements in technology, gotta-have products, or evolving practices that change the way we do business. Retailers like Best Buy and JC Penney have already announced efforts to ramp up one-on-one interaction to drive customers back to their stores, looking ahead to perhaps a renaissance of traditional customer service.

With its history as a game-changer, though, Amazon just might remain what’s “next” for the foreseeable future.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Fresh Consumer Insights for July

July 17, 2012 3 comments
BIGinsight Executive Briefing - July 2012

Click to view the July 2012 BIGinsight Executive Briefing.

Early each month, we release our Executive Briefing – complimentary topline insights from our latest Monthly Consumer Survey of more than 8,000 consumers.

And, we’ve just released our latest edition for July. Here’s what you may have missed:

– Economic sentiment perked up from June, though consumers failed to set off any fireworks compared to years past. This month’s reading (32.8%) looks a little stagnant when placed in longer-term perspective – and well below Jul-07’s pre-recession figure of 47.8%.

– Workers show signs of concern for personal job security. 4.2% admitted they were anxious about becoming laid off, up from last month as well as one year ago.

– With the campaign season about to hit full throttle, consumers seem to be bracing for the onslaught of political propaganda. Overall, though, consumers seem a little less apprehensive this Presidential go-around they did during the 2008 McCain vs. Obama election. Plus: how would you score in a Presidential Pop Quiz?

– The uptick in consumer confidence this month may be leading a few shoppers off the practicality platform. Before you start thinking “spending rebound,” though, keep this in mind: practicality remains well above the sensible shopping tendencies we witnessed before the Great Recession.

– July pump price prediction: $3.49/gal, 25 cents below the forecast for the end of June ($3.75/gal). For more on this topic: Pain at the Pump: Who (or What) is Controlling Pump Prices?

A bit of Christmas cheer might be in store for retailers: one in ten says they plan to spend more on gifts this year, up from 6.5% in Jul-11.

Was JC Penney’s Fair & Square strategy a gift to Macy’s in Women’s Clothing? For the sixth consecutive month, Macy’s bests JC Penney in this category, though Kohl’s and Walmart continue to lead overall.

In the well-documented Shoe Wars, one retailer is M.I.A. in July. Yes, that’s right (and you heard it here first)…JC Penney (now #6) has been bounced from the Top 5 by Foot Locker.

– 90 Day Outlook: Back-to-School (i.e. Children’s Clothing) looks to be a bright spot in consumers’ spending plans. However, with the majority of categories facing DOWNward compared to June, revenues may fizzle instead of sizzle as we make our way through summer.

– What’s Hot? Farmers’ fresh fare beats out Spider-Man, Dark Knight.

To sign up to receive the monthly BIGinsight™ Executive Briefing, please click here.

And, to view the latest BIG Executive Briefing in its entirely: July 2012.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JUL-12 (N = 8509, 7/2 – 7/9/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Confidence Cools Off As Summer Heats Up + How Does the Stockholm Syndrome Relate to Savings?

June 27, 2012 1 comment

This month, my co-host for the BIG Call was John Mariotti, President/CEO & Founder of the Enterprise Group. John also currently serves as a Director on several corporate boards and is an award winning author.

For this month’s BIG Call, John supplemented our favorite data on confidence, employment, personal finances, and spending plans with his unique analysis and understanding of these topics.

Here’s what we talked about:
– Confidence in the economy cools off as summer heats up, marking the second consecutive month of decline
– Just 16% of consumers are calling for “fewer” layoffs – a figure that has decreased [i.e. grown more pessimistic] over the past two years
– Last month’s “dip” in practicality appears to have been a “blip” on consumers’ spending radar
– Why are consumers seemingly holding back when it comes to paying down debt or increasing their savings?
– Scary fact: One out of three consumers isn’t saving any income
– Improvements in 90 Day Outlook may not be as positive as they appear
How is JC Penney’s “Fair & Square” faring?

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

For the full, complimentary June 2012 BIG Call slide deck, please click here.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JUN-12 (N = 8760, 6/5 – 6/12/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

“Fair & Square” Revisited

June 14, 2012 9 comments

When we first took a look at the new JC Penney “Fair & Square” strategy back in March, the initial read was so-so from the consumer standpoint. In our monthly “Hot or Not?” feature, more deemed it “not” (58.3%) than “hot” (41.7%), though JC Penney Women’s Clothing Shoppers* seemed the most willing to give the strategy a chance, particularly compared to Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart shoppers.

Flash forward to June…

In the wake of JC Penney’s disastrous Q1 earnings report, we decided to again poll our nearly 9,000 consumers for an update on their “Fair & Square” feelings. As you can imagine, it’s not faring so well; over the past three months, those who think JCP’s new direction is “hot” dropped nearly 14%:

Hot or Not? JC Penney's "Fair & Square" Ad Campaign

But the real issue here is how “Fair & Square” has affected JC Penney’s consumer share. A look at 10 years of BIG historical data on the current Top 5 Women’s Clothing retailers tells three tales:

1. The Decline of Walmart
2. The Rise of Kohl’s
3. The Macy’s / JC Penney Clash

Women's Clothing - Shop at Most Often

Let’s leave Walmart and Kohl’s out of the story for once and make JC Penney and Macy’s the main characters. As you can see, since Macy’s nationwide conversion in the mid-2000s, these two department stores have been tangling pretty consistently for third place in this category – with JC Penney generally the victor. However, a magnified look at each retailer’s performance over the past 13 months shows just how damaging “Fair & Square” was for JCP’s customer base:

Women's Clothing - JC Penney / Macy's Snapshot

Instead of driving shoppers to its stores, “Fair & Square” sent its customers right into the arms of competitors. #whatanightmare

* A selection of Women’s Clothing retailers was analyzed for this report. “Women’s Clothing Shoppers” are defined as those who shop most at a given retailer for Women’s Clothing (an unaided, write-in response).

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JUN-12 (N = 8760, 6/5 – 6/12/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

FYU: Department Store Domination?

As readers of our monthly Executive Briefing are already aware, 2012 has been a pretty exciting year for Kohl’s when it comes to the Women’s Clothing store shopped most often by the more than 8,000 respondents in our Monthly Consumer Survey. When we last visited this category in November 2011, Kohl’s had – for the first time in the history of our 10 year survey – surpassed Walmart as the top store shopped for this category. While discounter Walmart had the edge in January, April marked the third month in a row that Kohl’s has led this category – and it looks like the department store darling might be widening the gap between itself and the big discounter:

Women's Clothing - Kohl's v. Walmart

So what’s the deal with Walmart? Where is Kohl’s growing? And, are JC Penney or Macy’s posing immediate threats to the top two? For Your Understanding this month, we’re taking the Women’s Clothing catfight to the mats, courtesy of our Retail Ratings Reports*.

In just the first few pages of this handy guide, we can see that:
–  Among the fashion forward set – a faction growing in number – Macy’s is shopped most often (16.6%), followed by Kohl’s (11.2%), and JC Penney (8.2%).
–  Walmart’s core shoppers earn under $50,000 – and the discounter leads with these wage earners. However, among both the lucrative $50,000+ and $75,000+ income groups, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and JC Penney are the top stores shopped for Women’s Clothing, respectively.
–  Kohl’s (11.2%) and Macy’s (10.8%) also lead when it comes to 18-34 year old customers. Walmart’s strength lies with consumers 35-54 and 55+, though the discounter still plays second fiddle to Kohl’s in both cases.
–  Kohl’s and Macy’s are the top Women’s Clothing stores shopped in the Northeast, respectively, while their roles are reversed out West. Kohl’s (#1) and Walmart (#2) control the Midwest, and down South, Walmart maintains its stronghold (followed by Kohl’s).
–  While Kohl’s has recently overtaken Walmart for the top spot in Women’s Clothing overall, it appears that Macy’s may enter the mix as 2012 gets underway. From January to April 2012, share of Adults 18+ shopping the department store standard have increase 60%+ to a current 10.0%.
–  Finally, don’t discount JC Penney. Thanks to the retailer’s promotion-less new Fair & Square strategy, shopper interest has perked up in 2012 – in the short term, at least.

Women's Clothing - Store Shopped Most Often (Top 5)

But let’s look a bit deeper at the growing divide between Walmart and Kohl’s with the Consumer Equity Index™ (CEI). The CEI – available exclusively within the Retail Ratings Reports – is a year-over-year index showing growth or decline of Consumer Preference Share (the % we collect each month for the store shopped most often). Here’s a key:

CEI = 100 (flat)
CEI = 105 (5% growth)
CEI = 95 (5% decline)

Our latest CEI ratings for Women’s Clothing shows that Kohl’s – and Macy’s – are growing in customer share, while Walmart is flatlining at best. In the all-important female shopper segment, Kohl’s share has risen 14%, Macy’s has boosted a whopping 43%, while Walmart (and JC Penney) have dropped 5%.

Women's Clothing - Consumer Equity Index (Female Shoppers)

And, recall that sweet spot of core customers for Walmart? If you were to analyze the CEI ratings for those earning under $50,000/year, you would find that both Kohl’s and Macy’s are growing in similar fashion as with the female population, while Walmart has seen a flat/meager 2% pick-me-up with this group. #departmentstoredomination?

Now you understand: It doesn’t appear that Kohl’s and Macy’s are directly poaching Walmart shoppers – they are growing their own customer bases (especially females and <$50,000 wage earners), while the big W’s share remains stagnant. Department stores are buzzing with consumers for 2012, and we did witness their increasing popularity for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. With this topic trending with shoppers, we could see some additional change-ups in the Women’s Clothing sector as 2012 progresses.

Bottom Line: Perhaps Walmart just isn’t keeping up with The Changing American Consumer.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey, APR-11 – APR-12

* Retail Ratings Reports are available monthly for the following categories: Women’s Clothing, Men’s Clothing, Children’s Clothing, Shoes, Linens/Bedding/Draperies, Electronics, Hardware, Children’s Toys, Sporting Goods, Groceries, Health & Beauty Care, Prescription Drugs.

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

BIG on the Street: Hola Miami

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Miami, Miami, you’ve got style.
Blue sky, sunshine, white sand by the mile.
When you live in this town, each day is sublime.
The coldest of winters are warm and divine.

–  Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak
The Golden Girls
Season 2, Espisode 6

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

I never thought I’d see the day when I couldn’t count on the advice of my Girls. Having just flown back from a five day excursion to Miami, I had one expectation for this trip – a tan. Too bad it poured on Day 1…and Day 2…and Day 3 – you get the picture. Blue sky, sunshine my foot. If you are headed there sometime soon, don’t worry; Miami returned to normal beautiful weather patterns upon our departure. #vacationbust

Fun in the Sun? Note the sideways palms.

Fun in the Sun? Note the sideways palms.

While I didn’t manage to bring back my sunshine souvenir, I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of our southernmost states, courtesy of our monthly survey of more than 8,000 respondents (a portion of whom, of course, are Floridians).

While we already know that Florida is the “Best Bet for  a ‘Rerun’ Vacation” and is labeled “Most Attractive Attractions,” as it turns out, those living in the Sunshine do have style. More than a quarter of Florida residents (22.5%) say that newest fashion trends and styles are important to them, slightly higher than the national average (20.5%). While a third prefers traditional, conservative looks (33.1%), the largest proportion of Floridians opts for value and comfort over fashion (44.3%)…must be all of those retirees – nearly a quarter of those living in this southern state have withdrawn from the workplace (compared to about a fifth of the population overall).

When we look at retailers specifically shopped in Florida, it appears that Walmart and Kohl’s lose some of their nationwide appeal. Among Women’s Clothing connoisseurs, Macy’s (10.8%) takes top honors, followed by JC Penney (9.3%), Walmart (8.8%), Kohl’s (7.5%), and Ross (4.8%). While Walmart (13.9%) is shopped most often for Men’s (followed by JC Penney at 9.7%), Payless (11.7%) tracks ahead of the big discounter (10.5%) in Shoes.

Women's Clothing - Stores Shopped Most Often

Concluding the retail round-up, Florida-style:
– Walmart wins in Sporting Goods (15.6%), though Sports Authority (14.7%) finishes just a point behind. Dick’s takes bronze (9.2%).
– While the CVS lead nationwide is BIG news for the Prescription Drug category, this druggist (21.7%) still trails Walgreens (26.8%) in the Sunshine State.
– With two in five shopping here most often for Groceries, Publix (42.1%) brings the heat to match the humidity, those Walmart (27.6%) finishes a respectable second.

P.S. I’m not alone in my Golden Girls admiration…this TV classic ranked #2 among the shows that best portrays consumers’ groups of friends/social lives. Click here to view.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – APR-12 (N = 8724, 4/3 – 4/10/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

%d bloggers like this: