JCPenney Reenvisions Beauty Post-Sephora, and It’s Diverse

JCPenney Reenvisions Beauty Post-Sephora, and It’s Diverse

The JCPenney and Landing partnership is powered by technology to bring best-in-class beauty products from the next generation of inclusive indie brands to customers across America.

JCPenney’s in-house team handpicked the remainder of the brand list, which includes JCPenney-exclusive brands Mirabella and Makeup Geek, as well as I’m Meme, Nooni, Kleem Organics, and Better Natured Haircare. The original 170-plus contenders are expected to be joined by more lines as the pilot is evaluated.

Salons will play a major role in the new concept, those familiar with the rollout said. In sync with the JCPenney Salon, the new beauty business will be eligible to participate in storewide discounts at a reduced savings of 10%. Customers will be able to earn and redeem points on JCPenney Beauty products as part of the JCPenney Rewards loyalty program.

Brands working with JCPenney note its loyal fans, its accessible pricing, and its generational appeal. While the retailer skews older, many mothers and offspring shop the retailer.

“Growing up in Kentucky, I would always go shopping at JCPenney with my mom and my friends. The company offered the beauty and wellness experience I wished every store offered back in the day,” said Niambi Cacchioli, founder of Pholk Beauty. “I love the idea of being a part of a program where several generations of people can stock up on beauty essentials together. For Pholk, this opportunity has been an exciting moment of growth for our brand in real-time. It has proven that we can scale back our manufacturing and still remain true to our commitment to sourcing from independent Black, women farmers to create the all-natural products that our customers love.”

While the buzz is positive and hopeful, a few experts noted that the small and slow rollout (only 10 of 650 doors) might not immediately deliver the needed impact. Others who have tried before, including Kohl’s, have not always been able to crack the beauty code.

JCPenney has had a long and winding road with beauty. “Penney has always based its beauty on what pedestrian traffic it offers a brand. Up to the early 1980s, JCP was considered a mass volume retailer that competed with Sears and Montgomery Ward primarily with Revlon and other better mass lines along with mass class fragrances,” recalled industry consultant and former WWD editor Allan Mottus.

“From the early 1980s to 2006, it offered department store castoffs and a good group of prestige fragrances. By 2006, Sephora was carried in many stores. Sephora gave JCP an assortment of prestige makeup, skin care and fragrances that gave the chain good competitive footing against traditional department stores,” he added.

The retailer’s gamble with small and diverse brands could prove fortuitous. With social media, small brands have gained share against larger traditional lines, Mottus said. With the mix it is curating, the retailer can serve niche markets and bring new brands in if existing ones don’t perform.

“As the department store universe is much smaller, there are fewer prestige brands that have critical mass. Gen Z and Millennials have fewer loyalties and are price sensitive. Trading down is prevalent now, so Penney shoppers will very well check out new products to see if they fit their needs,” said Mottus, who is authoring a book about the history of the beauty business.

The space is mostly in the same area as Sephora and, according to WWD, will be accented with natural wood tones and soft-white coloring with sight lines making the department visible from other parts of the store. Footage will be in the 2,000-square-foot range and look very different than the past Sephora décor. Visits to some JCPenney stores revealed difficulties seeing the Sephora presentation in the rest of the store. In Kohl’s, Sephora has its own entrance and its signature décor package.

The 15-year-old Sephora program is winding down but remains active in other stores and will expire in late 2020. JCPenney settled a legal dispute with Sephora in May 2020 after the department store accused Sephora of attempting to back out of its long-term contract early. Once negotiations ended, Sephora announced its deal with Kohl’s.

While everyone awaits results from the other two big collaborations, it will also be interesting to see if JCPenney can make its mark in beauty with a clean slate and new plan.

JCPenney Beauty will launch in-store at select JCPenney retail locations beginning in:

  • Davenport, FL
  • Dearborn, MI
  • Greenville, NC
  • McAllen, TX
  • Mesquite, TX
  • Niles, OH
  • Springfield, MO
  • Saint Cloud, MN
  • Trumbull, CT
  • Whittier, CA

Thirteen Lune brands entering JCPenney Beauty: Afropick, Anové, Bossy Cosmetics, Canviiy, Cashmere Moon, Ceylon, CTZN Cosmetics, Exa, Gloryscent, Glosshood, Golde, Joanna Vargas, Kadalys, Kaike, Liha Beauty, Mischo Beauty, Mora Cosmetics, Pholk, Prados Beauty, Prim, Sara Happs, Shaz & Kiks, Skot Beaute, Sundree, Tail-Lite, Unsun, Vaycay, Wander Beauty.

Landing International entering JCPenney are: Cosrx, Pure Lotus, Neogen, Unplugged Essentials, The Renatural, St. Moriz, Clean Circle, Everyday Humans, Kmoni Cosmetics, When Beauty, Common Ground, By Wishtrend, Hanskin, Isntree, Leaders, O.R.G Skincare, Keep Cool.

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Author: AARP