How JCPenney uses online quizzes to build loyalty

After exiting Chapter 11 in December 2020 and completing its restructuring, the retailer is taking steps to generate additional visits from its loyal customer base using online quizzes. JCPenney said it was working with zero-party data company Jebbit to create these quizzes. By sending the questionnaires to shoppers who have shared their email addresses with JCPenney, the company is able to tailor its marketing efforts to customers who already enjoy shopping with the brand.

“The goal is to really go beyond what we can learn from customer transactional behavior and really go deeper and learn directly from the customer,” said Debbie Stanford, senior marketing project manager for the loyalty at JCPenney. “We won’t always be able to capture these types of attributes through a transaction.”

The department store awaits its turnover of 9 billion dollars this fiscal year, up 10% from 2021. However, the retailer’s foot traffic has been down 28.8% in July and down 35% in June from 2019, according to foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai. JCPenney declined to share how many people it sends the online quizzes to, but said the majority of those who shared emails with the company are rewards members. The company said it has more than 24 million active members.

Stanford said the company offers both seasonal quizzes and “always-on” quizzes that people can take at any time. So far, she said some of her quizzes have achieved a pass rate of 80% and above.

The company said it uses quiz data to influence its messaging and content. For example, its seasonal back-to-school quiz, which aims to help parents find the style their kids want, has over 22,600 views. The company’s quiz, which was available from July to August, asks people a mix of fun questions and information to gauge their price sensitivity.

“We were definitely able to influence messaging and content opportunities…to be able to talk more directly about the concerns [of shoppers]”, Stanford said. “It will help us plan next year for back to school – the messages, the assortment and the content.”

JCPenney also offers a beauty quiz that allows shoppers to discover products that would address their biggest skincare concerns. The company asks questions like what skincare problem they want to solve and what types of products they are interested in. After learning some of shoppers’ top skincare concerns, the company launched a tool in September that would let people try different products virtually as quickly as possible. as well as an AI-powered skincare advice tool.

Calla Murphy, vice president of digital strategy and integrated marketing at Belardi Wong, said the acquisition part zero data, or data that consumers voluntarily submit, has become more important to retailers in recent years due to Apple’s anti-tracking updates and upcoming removal of third-party cookies. Without some first-hand customer data, it becomes more difficult to personalize their shopping experiences.

This phenomenon has prompted several merchants to launch their own online quizzes to combat data depreciation. For example, the DTC mark doe lashes has an eyelash quiz that allows the company to tailor the emails they send and inform their merchandising decisions.

“[Online quizzes] allow your customers to truly inform you about themselves or respond in an engaging way and engage with your brand,” Murphy said.

However, she said gathering data is only the first step – applying the insights to the retailer’s strategy is one of the biggest challenges retailers face with online quizzes. Additionally, retailers need to ensure that quizzes are engaging and don’t distract people from their purchases.

“Quizzes that have a specific demand and then an action already tied to that demand are typically the ones we’ve seen to be the most effective and sustainable for brands and retailers,” she said.

JCPenney’s Stanford said the company has planned a quiz card for the whole year and is also looking at ways to launch more evergreen quizzes. Additionally, she said these questionnaires could potentially be used as an acquisition tool.

“A lot of people think of shopping or shopping at [JCPenney] at certain times of the year,” Stanford said. “It’s about keeping that engagement and awareness going so they can consider us at other times of the year as well.”

Melvin G. Rodriguez