Wednesday, January 20, 2010

J.Crew News: Listening to the Consumer

"Thanks!" to as Casual-Crew who shared an article from the L.A. Times (click here to read the article in its entirety) about First Lady Michelle Obama's influence on fashion. What is interesting is the quote or two about J.Crew's attention to customer demand.
First Lady Michelle Obama creates her own fashion trend
Michelle Obama's unique fashion sense is inspiring women and giving a little lift to the industry.

By Booth Moore

January 17, 2010

...On dozens of occasions Obama has turned to J.Crew for embellished cardigans and jacquard pencil skirts, and the retailer had a very good year in 2009. "There is a halo effect," said J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons. "It's hard for us to pinpoint her specific influence.
But any cardigan with a ruffle or a detail, whether it ends up on her or not, customers love them and want them. Also pencil skirts, they're not necessarily a trend thing right now, but our customers still want them."

In April, after Obama wore J.Crew's sparkly constellation cardigan to 10 Downing Street, the item sold out within an hour on the brand's website. After J.Crew received 75 e-mails about the piece, a similar style was released in October. "
We pay attention to the blogs and to e-mails, and if we realize people have missed something we will do another version," Lyons said. ...
I guess I fall into the group of customers who loves a "cardigan with a ruffle or a detail". Oh J.Crew, you got me there! As for paying attention to the blogs and e-mails... I wonder how much it really influences their decisions. If it does have a strong impact, then... free shipping code with no minimum please! ;)

What are your thoughts on the quotes provided by Jenna Lyons? Do you feel like J.Crew is responding to customers (in terms of products, quality, fabric, fit, price, etc.)?


  1. any news for the guys these days???

  2. You know what? Just give us FLAT RATE shipping. If free shipping is just too much to ask for....I'd be happy with that! I would BUY MORE. Hope somebody at J Crew sees this.

  3. J. Crew has not been paying attention to blogs in terms of quality and fit. Because quality is on the ever increasing decline and the fit is so variable. Michelle Obama's influence has increased profits but I have a feeling that using cheaper labor and even cheaper materials have been another major source of the profit boon. Hopefully it won't last so J. Crew will have an incentive to listen to their customers about quality and fit.

  4. I love details on my clothes, but I wish JCrew could be more creative and extend their design beyond ruffles. And often the cute designs are executed poorly and end up looking cheap or unfinished.

  5. Thanks for posting this Alexis!

    I feel like JC is out of touch with the consumer, they are still producing ruffle clothes, the fit is all over the place, and the quality is declining. Their profits are only up because they cut employee and manufacturing costs.

    As for their CS I had a bad experience with them last week over a UPS parcel that was presumed lost (UPS driver did not feel like working and did not deliver it for 3 days). CS would not trace the parcel without receiving alot of attitude back about doing it.

  6. JC should turn to something new as ruffles are all over every store and they will be on all the markdown racks in the future.

    stop with the different BM vs. web pricing ...pick a price and stay with it. your customer can shop @ both

  7. I doubt JCrew will listen to our shipping pleas. The profit on shipping for them is very high. Sad. I would have bought some things this morning;there was a large update but no way will I pay for shipping.

  8. How apropos!

    I completed the post-shopping survey, and commented that I felt the quality was declining and prices were increasing.

    I received a reply. At first read, I was a little taken aback. I left it for a bit, and came back to give it a second read. My husband had a look. He laughed. "I guess the customer is always wrong," were his exact words.

    How's that for listening.

  9. I just want my damn rewards card and some merchandise in the empty stores so that I can spend the rewards card.

    And, politics aside, I DO NOT strive to dress like Michele Obama. It's been a year with this pitch. Over it.

  10. I agree Summer, I refuse to pay for shipping! $18.50 for few items that are less than 1 lb?

    I have received yet another sweater with a hole on it yesterday. That's three since last month! I'm tired of wasting my time to exchange for a new one.

  11. I agree with the shipping comment. I have three items sitting in my shopping cart and I'm not buying them until there's a shipping code or some kind of coupon to offset their ridiculous shipping costs. On the other hand, I just ordered from Banana yesterday (which I have the convenience of putting items from four stores in the same order), received free shipping, $15 off for my birthday coupon and a $10 off rewards card. I think J. Crew is playing a pretty dangerous game with the shipping and quality thing that they could lose badly on.

  12. Oh and one more comment that only requires two words to show how nuts J.Crew is on some things:

    Sequined shorts.

  13. I agree with all the ruffle comments. EVERYTHING has ruffles.

    Other qualms:
    -Only making so many items in each size and the number they make is REALLY low. Several things I have been interested in have sold out in a few weeks.
    -Shipping. So expensive.
    -Odd concepts (i.e. crinnkled hammered silk/sequin tee-shirts that are spot clean only- I mean really?)

  14. maureen, they are doing the low inventory on purpose because they want things to sell out at full price and not have to mark down.

    Belle de Jour, can you post the reply you got? I'm intrigued.

  15. I agree with everyone on this post. I absolutely refuse to pay for shipping. It's just too much. In the past, I paid when there was something that I really wanted but now, I refuse to pay shipping on principle. At least have it be flat shipping like Banana/Gap. It's ridiculous to charge $18.50 for shipping. It's even worse when they're trying to make profit off the shipping fees!

    I love JC but I have noticed a decline in quality and fit consistency. I also don't like the constant change in prices (ex. the winnie pant) Not cool JC! If you're really listening to your customers, I hope to see some real changes because we can't be the only ones that feel that way.

  16. I am, personally, tired of hearing about hearing about Michelle Obama's J.Crew purchases. I feel like they are saying... she is so superior and yet, she can shop occasionally at this little off-the-rack store.

    It reminds me of when Sharon Stone wore that GAP T-shirt to the Oscars and everyone couldn't believe it... and we had to hear about it Forever! Please! There are Millions of People who shop at GAP, J.Crew, and other similar stores for their daily clothes.

    If J.Crew is reading Blogs, I hope they hear this... what's up with all these Final Sale Items right after Christmas? I can't even exchange a sweater I got for a different size - if I do I'm stuck with it, even if it doesn't fit. Please J, Crew... There should be a little exchange time after Christmas Next Year without the items being Final Sale!!!

  17. Final Sale is made of evil, and I refuse to be a part of it. Even if there is something in Final Sale that I LOVE, I won't buy because if it doesn't work for me I should be able to return it just based on principal. God bless all of you who do the resell/swap thang. I don't have time for that.

    And as I've said in so many posts, if you have J. Crew card you should have free shipping. End of story.

    I have such a love/hate/hate/love relationship with J. Crew. Lol.

  18. Mother of pearl is this funny! It's like opposite day in Jenna land. Quality is going downhill, prices are way up, discounts are meager, and shipping is astronomical. AND HALF MY ORDERS HAVE PROBLEMS! Maybe JC is listening to only what they want to hear, like buzz about MO and the MTV girl thing. Plus the fact that people like me still buy, albeit less, even when so pissed off. My parents were always boycotting one thing or another when I was growing up. I may need to impose another shopping ban soon.

  19. I also filled out one of those post-shopping surveys a few months ago and complained about the shipping costs. I promptly recevied a response from J.Crew, and it was snarky. Wish I would have saved it. They basically feel completely justified in what they charge for shipping. I'm shocked that J.Crew card holders don't get free shipping... seems like it should be one of the standard perks. I can't tell you how many items I've passed up because I couldn't get free shipping. It's ridiculous.

  20. I've requested JC create a wait list for sold out items that popback, even if prepayment were a requirement -- but that doesn't seem to be happening. The difference in pricing between internet and b&m is shocking and unfair, and is a huge dissuader to purchasing from JC online. Since I live more than an hour from a b&m JC, guess I won't be adding to their profit margin any time soon.

  21. This was good for some Lols. I'd be really curious to see the replies sent to customers who expressed concerns about shipping costs.

    I'm still a JC junkie, but the bubble is off the wine, as Edith Wharton would say. I just spent $100 at the tailor to deal with inconsistent sizing of final sale purchases--hardly a bargain with that kind of additional costs.

    Lately I've been much happier purchasing tried and true JCA-approved items from eBay resellers--many ship for free and the items arrive in one-third the time.

  22. JCrew corporate exhibits childish behavior when it comes to listening to their customer - who are they kidding - they are like a toddler with their hands over their ears or a teenager with selective hearing.

    I know that corporate has really tightened up the stores' ability to accomodate their customers. I have heard it from employees that things have really changed and not for the better.

    I don't purchase FS unless I have already tried something on in a b&m and know I love it. My JCrew b&m used to allow me to return FS items since I was such a good customer but corporate has put the hammer down at store level and sadly, they can no longer accomodate a FS return. I will now have to spend time trying all the new merchandise on that has potential and categorize it by FP purchase or "WFS - wait for sale". At least I am lucky enough to have a b&m close by.

    I refuse to purchase anything online without FREE SHIPPING and a FAIR PRICE in relation to final sale status - are you listening JCrew? And I agree that a cardholder should get free shipping; at the very least a nominal flat shipping rate. I am sending JCrew to the time-out chair for now until I see a major deal on final sale items. There's always something better around the corner (except for the metallic tweed charmed mini bag, LOL).

  23. Cass, I know that's why they do it. But the stardust skirt was totally sold out within a week in my size. I need a week or two to think over the new arrivals before purchasing.

  24. This made me chuckle for a couple of reasons.

    First, I recalled the recent discussion where FFM and someone else, (Heidi maybe?) posted a caution to other posters that J.Crew has made changes to some things after those hints and tips were posted on this blog. Listening to the customer? - yes, I think so. They even mention blogs and there is no bigger J.Crew blog following than this one, period. Not that it is any surprise to those of us who have been around here a long time. An email address I created and use solely for the Weekly Exchange on this blog was culled and suddenly started to receive email from J.Crew. This was last March or something. That doesn't happen by accident.

    Second, does anyone remember the surveys that used to come up after your order asking you if there were things from the past that you would like brought back? I filled those out every time, asking for the same ribbed cotton turtleneck sweaters and of course that style has never come back. Not that my opinion should count for much but I must have filled out at least 50 of those surveys so I was hoping. I can't wear wool turtlenecks and my old cotton turtles and rollnecks are showing their age. I would buy those cotton ones again at any price if the color was right.

    Third, I think J.Crew is "listening" to their most profitable customers. Those who will buy expensive items at FP when they are just released and multiples at that. Those are the customers J.Crew wants to attract and keep and for good business reason. They monitor their buying habits and woo them with gifts and free shipping, gift boxes, monogramming, etc. Sure, it's not down to a science yet, some of us wonder why we do or do not get included but they are definitely working to marketing excellence.

    Thanks for posting this article and Alexis, thank you so much for this blog. Always fun, informative and part of most of my days. :)

  25. Jenna, if you really are paying attention, then PLEASE release the original campo in a smaller size!


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