Dx: Sir, you have a ‘Marie Antoinette’ complex

Now, everybody’s piling on Ron Johnson – the former Apple exec who flamed out trying to turnaround JC Penney.

He didn’t seem to value JCP’s employees (which might be understandable) .. and he didn’t seem to value JCP’s customers (ouch).


One pundit says that Johnson’s downfall was his inability to connect with JCP’s core customers.

Mark Ellwood, a retail expert, says that Johnson’s obliviousness to the plight of his value-conscious customers begs comparison to another doomed leader.

“Ron had a Marie Antoinette-ish approach to the customers … He always seemed slightly embarrassed that he was dealing in middle market product.”

Like the “let them eat cake” French queen, Apple store prodigy Johnson could not relate to the people who will still coming to the JCP stores..

Penney’s customers became frustrated and confused when JCP stopped discounting merchandise.

Johnson’s alma mater, Apple, almost never has sales, but that approach doesn’t work for JCPenney shoppers, writes Dale Buss at Forbes.

“His attitude … was very much along the lines of ‘let me tell them what’s good for them,’ rather than ‘tell me what you want as a customer and let me see how I can achieve that.'”

“[Johnson should have gotten] to know J.C. Penney shoppers a bit before he decided to treat them all like eager iPhone buyers who are so enamored of the merchandise that they don’t pay any attention to price”.


Bottom line: selling commodity rags is a bit more difficult than selling early generation  iPhones …

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