Ex-Apple Ad Man: Ron Johnson Is Transforming JC Penney, Just Like Steve Jobs Transformed Apple

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Ron Johnson is taking the lessons he learned from Steve and applying them to JC Penny

Even though Steve Jobs gets credit for making the gutsy move to open Apple retail stores across the country, Ron Johnson deserves a lot of praise for the Apple Store’s success.

Johnson’s vision helped Steve create the most successful chain of retails stores on the planet. Then Johnson left to become the CEO of JC Penny, where he’s faced some heavy criticism for his efforts to revitalize the brand. According to Apple’s old marketing guru Ken Segall, Ron is a visionary in his own right, and he’s transforming JC Penny just like Steve Jobs transformed Apple.

In a recent blog post, Segall explains a lot of the obstacles that Ron Johnson is facing when it comes to transforming JC Penny. One of the biggest problems is that when Ron Johnson worked at Apple, every store ever built looked fantastic from day one. With JC Penny, Johnson has 1,100 existing stores, many of which are old and crappy, and need to be revitalize individually. Plus, most of them are bigger than the biggest Apple Store.

Segall says that Johnson knows what he’s getting into though. What’s the point of shopping at JC Penny if you can just buy everything online? Johnson knows that he has to copy the Apple Store model to be successful. He has to turn JC Penny into a fantastic shopping experience.

“Shopping habits have changed in a big way, and the department store is an old idea. If the concept is to survive, it’s going to have to change — drastically.

The fact is, everything for sale in the Apple Store is available online. So why are Apple Stores mobbed all the time? It’s because those stores offer something that can’t be found online: a place to try things out, people who really know the products, and face-to-face help when you need it. Apple Stores offer an experience.”

Resurrecting JC Penny is a huge task for anyone, but Segall thinks that Ron Johnson is just as visionary about retail as Steve Jobs was about technology. When Steve came back to Apple in 1997, people thought his idea for a chain of retail stores was crazy, just like people think Johnson is insane for trying to redeem JC Penny. According to Segall, it’s going to be another two or three years before we see the fruits of Johnson’s work, and it would have taken Steve just as long.

Segall says that both Johnson and Jobs are immune to criticism while they’re seeking to complete their vision. Whether people will actually respond to that vision though is going to take a few years to tell.

Head over to Ken’s blog to get the full run down on how Ron Johnson has imitated Steve Jobs in the retail space.

  • boblevel

    All I know is none of the 7 women in my family that shop at JCP like the changes. FWIW.

  • MrsCleaver

    Looks like he also borrowed Steve’s black shirt and bluejeans look. Seems more imitative than creative to me.

  • seelee

    How did you manage to misspell JCPenney throughout the ENTIRE freekin’ article?!?

  • MinorVon

    If you think Francisco`s story is something,, one week ago my sisters mom in law basically also got a cheque for $4487 working a 40 hours month from home and their co-worker’s sister-in-law`s neighbour done this for nine months and broght in more than $4487 part time at their computer. the guidelines on this link……… BIT40.?O?

  • aardman

    He may be famous because of the Apple Stores but perhaps even more relevant and critical to his JCP stint is the work he did at Target. In fact Steve hired him because of what he did at Target.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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