Posted by Dale Buss on July 3, 2012 05:05 PM
It's been at least three years since there's been such an intense global focus on the health of the U.S. auto industry. In 2009, of course, the question was whether General Motors and Chrysler would survive. Today, the question is: Can U.S. auto sales stay robust enough to ride on top of gathering economic gloom domestically and, in the process, actually help keep the global economy from swooning?
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne believes in the prospects of the U.S. auto market enough that he is considering producing more vehicles in Italy for export to the United States. That could help Fiat ease its excess domestic production as the European market slumps while helping U.S. Fiat dealers who are struggling with too few models amid the brand's rocky return to the American market.
June U.S. auto sales data released today underscored why auto executives still exude confidence about the market even as other indicators on the American economy, such as the unemployment rate and overall manufacturing growth, prove increasingly troubling. June auto sales overall were the best in five years and ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than 14 million units, a pace in line with most forecasts of the full-year sales total, which would be more than 10 percent above last year's total.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on June 18, 2012 06:35 PM
J. C. Penney Company, Inc. today ousted its JCPenney brand president, Michael Francis, who oversaw the retailer's merchandising and marketing operations, with a terse statement that "We thank Michael for his hard work at jcpenney and wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Francis, who was hired last October "at great expense" (as the New York Times retail reporter tweeted, in light of his whopping $12 million signing bonus) from Target is seen as taking the fall for his boss, company CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple top retailer who oversaw JCP's new brand strategy in January. Now, of course, the heat is on Johnson to clean up a mess that was arguably of his own making.
For an executive whose goal is to "simplify" matters internally and externally, it was Johnson who championed the idea of killing coupons and sales in favor of "fair and square pricing" (a reference to its logo), so-called "monthlong value" and "everyday low" pricing and twice-monthly clearance events on every first and third Friday (aka "payday" in America). The brand recently scrapped that strategy and is re-embracing the dreaded s-word — "sale."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 6, 2012 12:14 PM
JCPenney has a newfound love for "sale." Ron Johnson, the CEO of JCPenney, this week continued his efforts to claw back the troubled retailer's new business model this week by telling an investment meeting that the company now will be moving away from the implausible term "month-long value" that was introduced in January as part of its new pricing strategy in favor of re-embracing a word that had become verboten at Penney HQ of late: "sale."
"No one really understood [month-long value]," he told the Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference in New York on Tuesday about why the retailer is re-embracing the S-word after making a big splash about dropping it back in January. "What we intend to do is a sale. We run 12 a year."
Yes, Johnson is busy backpedaling from one of the ribs of Penney's new business model — to eschew sales and other "confusing" consumer promotions in favor of an everyday-low price strategy — following dismal first quarter results that saw coupon-clipping moms stay away in droves.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 31, 2012 04:02 PM
At some point, JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is going to run into massive credibility problems with shoppers, investors and employees. He may already be there.
As part of its new "fair and square" pricing strategy that was introduced as part of its brand refresh in January, the retailer announced new promotions that would give lower prices on specific days of the month and also that some products would have better pricing for month-long periods. Coupons, in a risky move, would be eliminated — a move, it turns out, that didn't sit well with "couponing moms".
But one bad quarter later, in addition to lowering prices every first and third Friday of the month (aka "payday"), Penney’s has backpedaled on its non-promotional stance by adding five additional "Best Price Fridays" throughout the year that will also feature lower prices, such as the one before Memorial Day weekend.
While the move is designed to woo back customers after the brand's dismal first quarter, at least one analyst is afraid that the addition of the new days will confuse consumers even more.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 3, 2011 01:58 PM
Lexus executives may have officially given up hope of nabbing the U.S. luxury-auto sales crown for 2011, but the top contenders for the prize are revving their engines. Mercedes-Benz slightly narrowed BMW's lead in October, to about 7,000 total vehicles from about 8,000 vehicles through the end of September.
Luxury-segment sales have trailed the growth in overall U.S. auto sales so far this year, in large part due to the supply disruptions for Lexus, Acura and Infiniti (which is launching production in China next year) because of the March natural disaster in Japan.
Both camps play down their sprint to the finish. "If we beat BMW, I'm not going to say I wouldn't be happy, but it's not our target to beat them," Mike Slater, vice president of sales operations for Mercedes-Benz USA, told brandchannel. "We don't focus on that. If one day we happen to be Number One, that'd be nice."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 1, 2011 05:31 PM
The brand that might be taking biggest advantage of the challenges facing Toyota and Honda in the U.S. market isn't from Detroit — it's from Wolfsburg.
Volkswagen keeps rolling up huge sales increases in America this year, today reporting a whopping 40% jump in October sales over a year ago. In fact, on the last day of October, VW already surpassed its U.S. sales total of about 264,000 for all of 2010.
Sales for the entire U.S. auto industry in October strengthened modestly from September on a seasonally adjusted basis.
"We hit it out of the park" in October, Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen of America, commented on a call with reporters this morning. "Clearly it's an impact of having strong products in the marketplace offering great safety, quality and value."Continue reading...