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Sometimes Apologies Aren't Enough
By: Janet Kalandranis
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This topic is too good not to dissect. So although the social media portion of JC Penney’s new campaign was discussed last week, there are more thoughts and messages that need to be mentioned. By now everyone has seen or heard what JC Penney set out to do. It’s apologizing and begging customers to come back into their stores. It seems honest and relevant and open when discussing the facts, but it’s not working. At least not in theory. Because JC Penney, you are too late. Your apology just won’t work this time.

It’s been about a year since JC Penney shifted its strategy away from couponing and towards a new everyday, lower-priced model. The idea seemed genius at the time, but unfortunately the result was quite the opposite. It turns out customers loved coupons, loved the feeling of getting a good deal, and then that was taken away from them. So instead of keeping quiet they were loud and honest and turned away from the brand. JC Penney was expecting success from this move and received the opposite result. Then the brand went quiet, nothing happened, and the world moved on.

A year later the brand is apologizing. Too little, too late, JC Penney. Now customers have moved on, created new habits, and potentially have a bad taste in their mouths...and rightfully so. These customers were willing to be honest and the brand took too long to make a change. So saying "sorry" now and admitting that it was wrong really comes at a bad time. Are customers even listening anymore? Do they even care? As it’s been discussed before, one of the most important things a brand can do is to react in a timely matter. Taking a year to make a change and saying the brand "listened to customers" seems a little odd. Maybe even a little fake.

JC Penney is a legacy brand and one that could continue to reap success. But with too many changes, not enough insight, and the lack of customer understanding, this brand is severely hurt. Sometimes sorry isn’t enough, because now that the brand has lost the trust of its core audience, it needs to work twice as hard to get it back. And to be honest, there’s no guarantee that those customers want to come back. They’ve been burned, they tried to reach out, and sometimes sorry just won’t cut it.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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