JCPenney Rebrands Catalog, Reintroduces Product

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JCPenney, Plano, TX, unveiled a new identity this week for its legendary JCPenney Catalog, which will now be known as The JCPenney Big Book, a nickname it has used. The company also is following the results of a preliminary product market test and will reintroduce a line of Whirlpool appliances.

JCPenney said its customers have been instrumental in driving the change to a new name, noting that the company simply decided to go with the flow and recognize the value of the name "Big Book" by making it official.

According to Bob Bowler, director of catalog advertising and publications, "We're really talking about an evolution here," noting the Big Book also will be used online.

Bowler said many of its newer customers aren't aware the company has a long history in the catalog industry and expects the new branding both online and offline to help reach them. He said online customers can already order every item from the paper catalog through JCPenney's Web site ( by using order numbers directly from the JCPenney Big Book. However, the entire book won't be fully illustrated online until the end of August.

In addition to changing the official name of its catalog, JCPenney also has reintroduced the availability of Whirlpool appliances after a five year absence.

According to Bowler, the company did a preliminary appliances marketing test earlier this year using a "cover onsert." He said it did so well they decided to role out the fall JCPenney Big Book with a complete line of Whirlpool product offerings, which will also be made available on the Web site. However, it remains to been seen whether JCPenney can actually move heavy appliances over the Internet.

According to JCPenney spokeswoman Stephanie Brown, the company's total 1998 online purchases totaled $15 million, and the company is projecting its 1999 online sales will be between $50 million and $75 million.

JCPenney's first catalog was mailed in 1963, a fall/winter edition totaling 1,252 pages. Its fall edition of the JCPenney Big Book will total 1,400 pages and include more than 8,000 images of available merchandise. JCPenney currently mails 17 million catalogs per year and receives 2.3 million orders per week.
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