I read this article in the hard copy version of Fortune a few weeks ago, and I meant to post something on it then. JC Penney has a new CEO and a bold new strategy to become a retailer for the young and hip. What cracks me up is how out of touch they were with reality before Questrom (the new CEO) arrived.
Executives were not only hopelessly out of touch with style but also deluded about their own products. They thought Arizona, the flagship private-label brand, appealed to a trendy young customer. Two years ago Questrom asked Jeff Bergus, who had held design posts at Geoffrey Beene and Izod, to take over the brand. Bergus did some research and discovered that the average Arizona customer was actually between 44 and 46 years old, not the 17- to 24-year-old J.C. Penney envisioned.
Is that for real? Honestly, how can you run a business when you are that out of touch with who is buying your product? Everything a business does should revolve around the customer. You have to know your customers, their desires, and their expectations. It will be interesting to see who wins – Questrom, or the current "JC Penney is where your mother buys clothes" stigma.