J.C. Penney Integrates Teen Marketing as Online Hub

Last Updated Jul 16, 2009 6:47 PM EDT

J.C. Penney is revving up the engines for the back to school through holiday sales race, building on a years-long initiatives for teens to create a new online-marketing hub that unites efforts directed at younger consumers and their parents.

The company is integrating its teen marketing efforts by tying existing microsites for brands such as its own, established Arizona denim label with more conventional advertising and initiatives on new products such as the skate brand RS by Sheckler into a web-based teen promotional hub. The centralized virtual showcase will highlight the style J.C. Penney is bringing to its youth merchandise. However, it includes elements meant to make it attractive to parents as well, particularly the message that the retailer is providing styles on par with those offered by teen fashion specialists but at more moderate prices. Spokesperson Quinton Crenshaw explained that J.C. Penney wants consumers to see its brands as fashion at value, saying, "We can get the same comfortable style others offer but without breaking the bank. We will emphasize the styles we've introduced over the past couple of years and the new exciting brands we have. We feel we are well position as the one stop shop for teens."

J.C. Penney's youth movement begins with back to school but doesn't end there. The integration of various youth marketing elements in the online hub will become the basis for the retailer's promotions through holiday for teens and gift givers who are purchasing for them.

"We are very well positioned for the season because of the value proposition we offer," Crenshaw said. "We know the customers is looking for exceptional style and quality at affordable prices. With that said, we want to create a great campaign that demonstrates our great value proposition in the season."

It all begins in the back to school period and the campaign J.C. Penney plans, dubbed Schooled in Style: Smart Looks for Less, which includes this week's launch of the jcp.com/teen hub. Among other functionalities, the hub acts as a social network where teens can connect with each other, create their own looks and explore JCPenney's apparel offerings by checking out a digital runway. The online fashion show features 20 different looks previewed on models, along with a click through feature that allows closer inspection and purchase of individual garments. It represents the teen version of a feature that J.C. Penney powered up in February on its main JCP.com site to preview spring fashions from Nicole Miller and other designer partners.

The hub links to a JCP Teen Facebook page -- www.facebook.com/jcpteen -- that offers interactive games, fashion and event content, and a connection to Ryan Sheckler, skateboarder and developer of the RS by Sheckler exclusive brand, who will appear in the retailer's television advertising for his label.

The web sight also includes a sign-up for mobile phone text messages about J.C. Penney back to school sales, special offers and, beyond the autumn class restart, ways to interactively engage with the retailer and its fashions on an ongoing basis.

While it is emphasizing the new, J.C. Penney's youth marketing is of long standing. A decade ago it launched in-store magazines featuring brands such as Arizona that were designed to have teen appeal, and Crenshaw said the new campaign is part of the retailer's adaptation of the program to the digital age.

Tomorrow: J.C. Penney's advertising strategy and its viral tie in