Who let the dog out?

By Hope Banner: I have a sweet spot for the underdog. I have for as long as I can remember. Over the last few years I have been watching (and secretly supporting) retail underdog JC Penney’s evolution in an effort to claim its position in what’s become a very crowded sandbox.

It’s been a work in progress and while some marketers might call it confusing (three logos in three years), I completely get the strategy and when the new logo and advertising look was unveiled earlier this month, I knew exactly who it was. What’s more, I was excited to see a 110-year-old brand emerge as hip, fresh confident … and affordable.

JC Penney has made an effort over the last year to differentiate itself with its instant cash coupons that offered a flat $10 off any purchase of $10 or more. Its goal was to meet the customers where they were and not force you to buy more to get something back. As a consumer I appreciate that thinking. As a marketer I think giving your customers $10 with no strings is smart. The just-launched everyday low pricing model by new exec Ron Johnson (formerly with Apple) is an extension of JCP’s affordability philosophy. Time will tell if the “no coupon needed” strategy will actually work though – Americans love coupons.

It’s an exciting time for JC Penney. As consumer confidence rebounds, the new JCP could just be the breath of fresh air it needs.