The Retail NaviGator - our communication to you about our research on retailing issues and the activities of the David F. Miller Center. This ongoing media change creates a direct connection to the retailing community in a way that keeps information current, direct and GREEN!
In this issue:
In November, students flocked to the fourth consecutive Franchise Day, which is continually sponsored through the combined efforts of the Miller Center for Retail and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The event's focus is to educate students on the different facets of working within the franchising industry. The day began with more than 100 students enjoying a catered lunch and listening to a question and answer session guided by Professor Bill Rossi to an accomplished panel of Gator alumni. The first panelist was Jocelyn Holt representing the viewpoint of a franchisee with the experience of owning franchises under the company Comfort Keepers. Next was Krista Gibson, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy-Brinker International, who was able to elaborate on the corporate side of franchisers and the decisions they are constantly facing in a volatile economy. The third and final panelist was Bruce Konners, a former Party City franchisee and the current Vice President of Party Supermarket, who was managing three businesses at the age of 23 and had a wealth of technical information pertinent to such a discussion. A common refrain from the panelists was that owning a franchise takes up most of your time, and it is necessary to have a strong passion and appropriate analytical skills to do well. Overall, the day was a success and students were enlightened beyond their expectations on what it takes to have an edge in this lucrative industry.
JCPenney's spring campaign was "New look. New day. Who knew." This motto truly reflects Penney's new brand identity. The retailer's hope is to be America's shopping destination for discovering great styles at compelling prices. JCPenney is hoping to build deeper, more enduring customer relationships through innovative marketing, while still leading the industry in financial performance. The company's five-year plan is to increase sales by $5 billion and increase earnings per share to $5. JCPenney is certainly making every move in order to achieve this goal.
JCPenney has always been known for its attention to customer service. The original Penney's was named "The Golden Rule Store" because of its emphasis on customer experience. Today, JCPenney is embracing new forms of media in order to become a leader in branding. There are large touch-screen fixtures in Penney's stores where customers can look through trends and merchandise, and even order products that are not currently available in stores. JCPenney has also recently modified its website in order to facilitate online shopping. Delving further into innovative marketing, JCPenney recently launched its new mobile app, featuring mobile advertising, digital coupons, haul videos and even video look books. Considered "one of the top retailers getting social right," JCPenney re-launched its Facebook application in order to enhance brand interaction via polls, contest and games.
Not only innovative with its marketing approach, JCPenney's fast-fashion initiative is incredibly unique. This coming year, JCPenney will feature many store-within-store fashion lines, including partnerships with MNG by Mango and Aldo. Brands like Charlotte Ronson's "I ♥ Ronson" collection and Cindy Crawford's jewelry line are what draw customers to Penney's stores.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Goes Retail
Retail doesn't seem to have a place in the world of insurance companies. But Blue Cross and Blue Shield has made their retail locations the last pieces to their puzzle of success. Patricia Engel, director of retail services development and operations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield paid a visit to the University of Florida to discuss how BCBS plans to win with their strategy.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield expect to grow from this venture through its customer service. The company understands that there is a need for personal insurance and they are there to meet it. BCBS customers can now use their direct retail locations as a place to ask questions about insurance with face-to-face contact and buy personalized insurance plans to suit their specific needs. This aspect of customer service has been removed from the insurance business, and BCBS looks to these strategies as a means to gain a successful competitive advantage.
BCBS began this initiative in 2007 and now has stores in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami. This change was necessary due to the changing health care landscape where service offerings are now the standard from pharmacy companies and big box retailers. Consumers now demand first-rate service and companies must provide it in order to remain successful. This is evident from the results of this retail venture. According to Engel, BCBS' retail strategy has exceeded their expectations from a sales standpoint, and is excited to see retail's future in the company.
This electronic newsletter from The David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research is issued throughout the year to provide updates on what is happening in retailing at the University of Florida. Information regarding student outreach, jobs, internships, research and retailing connections throughout the country will be included. We hope you enjoy seeing what Gators are doing in the retail industry!