Horne: JC Penney pays price for moving away from print ads - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Horne: JC Penney pays price for moving away from print ads

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Terry Horne is publisher and editor of the East Valley Tribune and general manager of 1013 Communications Arizona, which also includes the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Arizona Interactive Media, The Explorer in Tucson, Glendale-Peoria Today and Surprise Today.

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012 3:04 pm | Updated: 12:54 pm, Tue May 22, 2012.

Readers of the East Valley Tribune and The Arizona Republic may notice a lot less presence of JC Penney store ads in the respective newspapers.

That is because JCP (the new preferred name by its new CEO) shifted most of its advertising dollars from newspapers effective the beginning of this year. The shifted dollars went to TV, social media and websites. At the same time, Penney’s moved from doing nearly 600 sales each year to a strategy of lower everyday prices and then some special pricing a couple of Fridays every month.

How has that worked out so far?

“Turns out, American shoppers don’t prefer predictable pricing over blockbuster bargains,” reported an Associated Press story this past week.

JC Penney lost $163 million in the three months that ended April 28. That changed from a positive profit of $64 million in that period a year ago, AP reports. Ouch.

I love JC Penney. I want them to do well. But at least part of the problem is that they have largely turned their back on their core shoppers that were used to seeing Penney’s advertising flyers in newspapers each week.

We are doing all we can to convince Penney’s to re-energize their investment in newspapers so that they can effectively speak to their core market. It is pretty obvious from the results that the strategy of moving those dollars to TV, social media and web ads hasn’t worked so well.

Kohl’s, Sears, Target, Best Buy, Staples, Century Link, Big 5, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Radio Shack, Safeway, Basha’s, Fry’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Office Max, Kmart, Bass Pro Shops, Toys R Us, Walgreens, CVS, Jo-Anns Fabrics, Stein Mart, Michaels, ED Marshall, Fort McDowell Casino, Maricopa Community Colleges (to name a few) and scores of car dealers and Realtors in Maricopa County spend their money with the Republic and the Tribune because they effectively reach their targeted markets and get a great return on investment.

So has JC Penney for most of its history. It has been one of the most successful users of the medium. Walking away nearly cold turkey could be fatal. We hope not. We want their business and we want them to thrive. And we think our readers want that also.

I suggest you drop by a JC Penney store this week. And while you are there I hope you let Penney’s know that you miss its sale ads in the Tribune.

Some quick hits of interesting or useful information:

• A Mesa husband and wife have won the couples category in an international weight-loss contest. Don and Laura Jo Richins lost a total of 53 pounds during FreeLife International’s TAIslim 90 Day Challenge, according to that organization in a news release. The Mesa parents of five will join other TAIslim Challenge champions May 17-20 for an all-expense-paid luxury makeover vacation in Scottsdale.

• Did you know that 50 percent of the world’s population is now under 30 years old? And that 96 percent of the so-called millennial generation have joined a social network. That explains why Facebook grew to 800 million users so fast. It doesn’t explain why my wife spends so much time on Facebook. Of course, she would counter with something about my fantasy baseball and fantasy football Web time.

• The Tribune was given the secret time to have a photographer at the new Gilbert Mormon Temple for placement of the Moroni golden statute onto the new structure. It is an important religious symbol for the church. The Tribune had to promise not to write about it in advance or tell anybody about the event because organizers didn’t want a big crowd. We kept our traps shut but the word got out and a big crowd witnessed the event Tuesday. How did it get out? No one knows but it was all over some East Valley Facebook pages the day before the “secret” project took place.

• Did you know that 87 percent of all teens send text messages? And the average teen sends 3,339 texts per month.

• My favorite smoothie place near my home has a new owner. Douglas and Karleen Gardiner bought the Tropical Smoothie Café at Warner and Priest in Tempe. There are also two Tropical Smoothie Café locations in Mesa (not under their ownership). I met them this week. Douglas Gardiner is a family law attorney with Davis, Miles, McGuire, Gardner in Tempe. His wife has been raising their three boys and has a geology degree but was at the front counter when I last visited the store. I’m pretty sure that the geology degree wasn’t required to run a smoothie store. Nonetheless, the smoothies are good. The owners are cool.

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