JCPenney Backs Off 'No Sale' Promise

By Kim Bhasin

Months ago, JCPenney (JCP) CEO Ron Johnson and his team decided to take the word "sale" out of the company's lexicon and replace it with "month-long value."

It didn't work at all, and now Johnson and his team are backtracking.

"It's just been kind of confusing," Johnson said at a Piper Jaffray investor conference, according to Reuters.

"We're moving away from the word 'month-long value' because no one really understood that, to calling it what we intended to do, a sale." JCPenney's "month-long value" pricing strategy docked prices on select products for an entire month, which is essentially a long-term sale. Traffic at JCPenney took a big hit in the first quarter as bargain-loving consumers ran for the hills.

It's something JCPenney execs mentioned in their presentation to shareholders last month.

"Our marketing isn't doing the work. It needs to communicate pricing strategy" and bring in more traffic, said Johnson. "We've got to get our pricing across."

This doesn't mean JCPenney is giving up on its quest to wean consumers off of big sales events and coupons - far from it. Pricing will remain the same, and the extreme bargain hunting consumers out there won't be getting their beloved coupons back.

Will the simple addition of the word "sale" to JCPenney's marketing make all the difference?

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