JC Penney is still finding ways to amaze me; and not in a good way. I’ve railed on them for a while as regular readers know. (New readers just do a search of the blog for Penney.) Last month they named Mary Beth West as CMO and chief customer officer. I have nothing against Ms. West. It’s the stupid title thing. Seriously, Chief Customer Officer is not also the Chief Marketing Officer by definition? Really, you want to argue that those are two different titles? (Ok, for more background on my feelings on titles just search chief customer officer on this blog.)
If the primary skill of marketers (as I have noted) is to “think like a customer,” then who else is going to be the Chief Customer Officer? Or wait, should we have two different people? How does that help?
JC Penney is trying to figure out how to grow, since they canned the guy who had a strategy to do it because it was too transformative. They recently changed CEOs from the first guy they fired (he came back) and replaced with the guy they fired for being too transformative, to a new CEO, Marvin Ellison. (If this is confusing, it’s not me it’s them.) Ellison noted they have rich customer data they don’t do much with, so Penney is looking to get more efficient with their promotional spend.
Look, they aren’t hitting their numbers so promotional spend is going to go down, but the effort is still needed, so they have to find a way to be efficient. Answer: personalized communications with customers. Good for them. Maybe they will even have something to talk about, though I am not sure what.
Why the Board of this company has not been replaced is beyond me. But then the General Motors Board and the HP Board did huge damage to their companies in my opinion with no shareholder revolt.