J.C. Penney Tries New Message for Its Private Label in Face Growing Competition

J.C. Penney is heading into a new year with a spring campaign it hopes will help lift sales and profits with a message of "style and value for all." Penney is pushing its private label brands at a time when it seems that all big retailers from Amazon to Walmart and Target are all launching new private labels trying to make their merchandise unique in the eyes of the consumer. Having brands that people recognize already is a plus for Penney, said Marci Grebstein, Penney's chief marketing officer. "There's a resurgence in private brands, but they've been part of our mix for a long time." Private and exclusive brands make up almost 60 percent of Penney's merchandise. Women are choosing both Penney's private brands, which include Arizona and Liz Claiborne, and national brands such as Levis, Nike and Adidas, depending on who in their family she's shopping for and what kind of value she's seeking, Grebstein said. Arizona, for example, is still almost a $1 billion a year even though Penney is a smaller company today. Penney wants its new ad the campaign to help it build on its connection with women who are busy at work and at home, while trying to take care of themselves, she said. "We know that every penny counts and we respect our customers' money and what it took to earn it." Still, Penney's research shows that while shoppers give it credit for value, customers want more style, she said, particularly in women's apparel which represents about one-fourth of annual sales. Women's accessories, which includes Sephora, is another 13 percent.Penney CEO Marvin Ellison said last week when Penney reported a profitable fourth quarter, but a loss for the year, that improving women's apparel business — its biggest department — offers the biggest opportunity. Penney will continue to modernize women's apparel, he said. It's adding more activewear and more fashion in plus sizes.  Continue reading...

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