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Penney’s aims for chic-yet-classic with new line


JCPenney’s introduction of Linden Street fills out a home offering that already included modern and traditional styles. Linden Street is designed in a mode dubbed “neo-traditionalist” by the company—not quite contemporary, but with the kind of transitional looks that have become more popular in mid-tier and mass markets.

Some have attributed the shift in middle-market shopper sensibilities to the influence of men, who are having more say in how their homes are decorated, and to an evolution in taste among consumers more attuned to modern styles.

Whatever the case, Linden Street will make JCPenney a stronger competitor across the board in a home marketplace where even Martha Stewart Everyday has incorporated men’s wear looks to take the traditionalist line a bit more contemporary. Not only that, but Linden Street is an initiative established to entice more young consumers, who the retailer has been targeting for several years. The line may also help JCPenney reach out to younger consumers online, providing a vehicle to expand cyber assortments and horizons.

At a recent store tour, conducted as part of the retailer’s analysts event in New York, executives conceded that not all contemporary style initiatives attempted by the company have enjoyed broad success—some were a bit too edgy for the JCPenney customer. The Linden Street initiative was tailored to provide home fashions that tracked design trends, but didn’t exceed the customers’ comfort zones.

Success with Linden Street could, potentially, create additional e-commerce opportunities for JCPenney. For example, it can shift convenience-oriented consumers into the online space as a replenishment resource. Indeed, can be a particularly important element in the brand strategy, not only as a convenience, but also as a lab where the retailer can explore more fashionable looks and test just how edgy it can get with its customers.

In the broader application, JCPenney has characterized the Linden Street launch as the most comprehensive home brand roll-out in the company’s history. The label will be available in stores, on and via catalog in July.

JCPenney characterizes the brand’s style direction as contemporary interpretations of classic design rendered as casual style. At the analysts meeting, president and chief merchandising officer Ken Hicks said, “Linden Street was designed, developed and sourced in-house for young families who are looking to create a relaxed and comfortable home environment, but with eclectic components to personalize their surroundings according to their style.”

The brand was executed with a good/better/best price positioning. It complements The JCPenney Home Collection for conservative lifestyle customers; the Chris Madden, Chris Madden Hotel and American Living collections for traditional lifestyle customers; and Studio for the modern lifestyle customers.

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