Having built its first in-store salon in 1963 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, JCPenney has decades of wisdom when it comes to leveraging the relationship between retail and beauty. Then known as a beauty shop, the first salon was built as part of the retailer’s new personal services department, which offered shoppers specialized services like optical care, snack bars, tire and battery services , and shoe and watch repairs.
“Today, beauty is one of our four major growth initiatives at JCPenney, because it is so experiential,” says Natalie Lockhart, vice president of salon at JCPenney. Today, the retailer’s salon division tallies more than 750 locations, 10,000 salon associates (with plans to hire 4,000 more) and approximately 10 million services per year.
For the retailer, the salon client is a valuable customer because she guarantees a high level of frequency—according to JCPenney, salon clients visit the store twice as often as non-salon shoppers.
“Over recent years, the pattern of steady mall traffic has changed for all retail destinations, and today’s brick and mortar stores are always looking for new ways to energize,” Lockhart says. “Because experiential services are impossible or difficult to replicate online, they really drive shoppers into the store. At JCPenney, we constantly talk about how our salon business, our beauty business with Sephora and our jewelry business are valuable for driving traffic.”
Understanding the important role that beauty plays, the company rolled out Sephora inside JCPenney as an exclusive beauty destination in 2006, and today the concept is part of more than 600 stores. Shoppers can visit the Sephora inside JCPenney locations for expert advice on color trends, skincare, grooming solutions and custom makeovers. Answering to consumer demand for convenience, customers now can purchase Sephora products at JCPenney.com and pick them up the same day at a JCPenney location.
In 2015, JCPenney started re-envisioning its salons to simultaneously reach a younger market and strengthen its bonds with existing clients. Partnering with the editors of InStyle magazine, the company launched The Salon by InStyle. The new design concept includes modern wall textures and colors, accent lighting, modern fixtures, sleek furniture and revitalized retail space. Delivering a superior approach to hair care, the concept was designed to resonate with customers who identify with the fashion, hair and beauty trends curated by the magazine. To develop stylists who stay on top of trends and meet the needs of this new client, JCPenney committed to providing its associates with ongoing education and training.
“InStyle is an exciting brand for us to be partnered with, and it’s brought us an amazing amount of fashion and beauty credibility and its allowed us attract new stylists,” Lockhart says.
At the time of the February 2015 announcement of the partnership, Ariel Foxman, editorial director of InStyle and StyleWatch said, “Beauty is a huge focus for our readers. They spend over $2.1 billion on beauty products in the pas year, equivalent to 9 percent of all spending on beauty in the U. S. We see our partnership with JCPenney as a way to extend our relationship with our consumer in a tangible new way.”
For JCPenney, the partnerships with Sephora and InStyle deliver a consistent message that the company is all about beauty and fashion and it stands behind it. The ability to cross market to customers throughout the different segments is proving invaluable and helps strengthen the customer’s loyalty to the overall JCPenney brand.
“Our cross-promotion events are an exciting opportunity to create a little retail theater, engage with customers on a new level and make their shopping trip an experience,” Lockhart says. “Between The Salon by InStyle, Sephora inside JCPenney and the JCPenney store, we can deliver a head-to-toe shopping experience—in one stop a shopper can be completely made over.”
For example, the retailer recently hosted “10 Days of Non-Stop New,” as its answer to New York Fashion Week. The 10-day beauty and fashion event hosted daily deals on Fall’s must have fashion trends, always including an offer on a piece of apparel at the store, a product or service at Sephora inside JCPenney and a service at The Salon by InStyle. For example, a shopper could pick up a pair of Liz Claiborne Over-the-Knee Boots for a steal, while learning how to create a smoky brick eye at Sephora and enjoying a $10 blowout at The Salon by InStyle.
Customers visiting JCPenney stores during the 10-day event were invited to enter the ‘JCPenney Dream Closet Giveaway’ sweepstakes for a chance to win a $5,000 shopping spree with fashion influencer Sonia Castaneda, a $500 gift card to Sephora and a VIP styling from The Salon by Instyle. Throughout the event, stores in select mall locations featured special in-mall displays hosted by brand ambassadors that showcased the season’s key fashion and beauty trends. Mall shoppers received complimentary swag bags that could be brought to the JCPenney store for a free beauty, fashion or jewelry gift.