Dogs, Men and Doghouses

Nov 24, 2009

By George

You’ve heard
the expression that “men are dogs.” Well, according to one of our favorite
surveys of all time, they aren’t dogs but wish they were.

Way back
in 2000, a site called reported that women placed the
family pet ahead of their husbands on the priority list for buying
gifts for the holiday season.

We remember
thinking when we first saw the study that there was no real news there.
After all, don’t all women put the children, extended family, friends,
co-workers, the family pet, and those in need ahead of their husbands
for the holidays? It couldn’t just be true in the Anderson household.
The male head of household gets a gift only if time allows and
the plastic isn’t maxed out, right?

Well now,
another holiday season is here and, faced with the prospects of socks,
underwear or something else similarly exciting under the tree, we are
being reminded by J.C. Penney that we don’t have the luxury of finding
the wrong gift for our partner.

The department
store has relaunched its “Beware of the Doghouse” viral campaign on (of course) to let men know the fate that
awaits them for giving really bad gifts instead of purchasing from
Penney’s “exciting selection of stylish and affordable fine jewelry

Last year, more than seven million visitors went to the website, logging
more than 14 million total video views.

Discussion Questions: How much
help do you think consumers, male or female, need in finding the right
gifts for their spouses this holiday season? Are campaigns such as Penney’s “Doghouse” appreciated
and does this translate into added sales?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Dogs, Men and Doghouses"

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Doron Levy
Doron Levy
12 years 6 months ago

This concept falls under ‘Merchant Mentality’. Of course it’s a good idea to help your customer figure out what they need. I think that thought process has been lost in retailing over the last decade or so. And I don’t think it is just spouses that need help. Well trained associates can spot a customer with questions a mile away and it’s important to engage that customer no matter what the circumstances. Questions can and will always lead to sales and possibly a bigger basket, depending on how things unfold.

JCP’s Doghouse is a great idea for marketing and as a resource for customers. It uses a technology that is current and viable to build sales (instead of that heavy glossy catalog they recently killed). This is the kind of gesture and interaction with customers I like to see from department stores.

John Crossman
John Crossman
12 years 6 months ago

I need all the help I can get with shopping so I love the idea. Not only would it help me, I am confident that I would end up spending more money and being more loyal to the retailer that offers this.

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
12 years 6 months ago
I always encourage brands to find new ways to help make the holiday shopping season more convenient for consumers, e.g., gift advice, shopping organizers, gift wrapping services, in-store helpers, etc. Shopping during the holidays is unlike shopping during other parts of the year, especially given that consumers are adding plenty of holiday-related activities and shopping to their already time-starved lifestyles. Brands that make holiday shopping more convenient are more likely to win favor. I like JCP’s Doghouse campaign, and apparently it resonates with consumers. Not only did JCP bring it back for holiday shopping this year, but they also regifted that campaign for the 2009 Valentine’s Day shopping season. While it’s humorous (another nicety during a stressful time of the year), it also tees off an important change in gifting behavior overall, i.e., today’s gift recipients are much more involved in the gift buying process. Gift registries, wish lists and even regifting and gift cards are all ways that gift recipients are saying they want what they want, not what the gift buyer wants to… Read more »
Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
12 years 6 months ago

This idea well executed can be a winner. Suggestions, help with sizing, what’s new and desired by the younger generation–all good. Some stores have had special “Men’s shopping” evenings–later hours, personal shoppers available, lists of suggestions and in-store merchandising to help. Men are encouraged to bring photos and any ideas. There are a few promos and perhaps beverages as well.

This time of year, many would appreciate guidance and help in selecting items and sizes.

Gene Detroyer
12 years 6 months ago

Greater than almost any business stress I have ever had in life is buying my wife a present, be it for Christmas, birthday, anniversary or Valentines Day. Fortunately, I have a daughter and daughter-in-law who are very helpful. And more fortunately, I have a wife who is very understanding.

I do not trust website suggestions. I do not trust sales people. Simply, I don’t trust myself to pick the right things. Maybe it is even worse than that. I only trust myself to pick the wrong things.

Now, where do I belong on the priority list? The survey is right. After the family pet. I can’t think of a present anyone should give me, why should I expect anyone else to? If I do think of something, it is generally something to save me a shopping trip to get it myself. Yes, every few years I need new socks. On the other hand, a dog bone always works for Fido.

Carlos Arámbula
12 years 6 months ago

I believe everyone needs help. We all know, we have all done, the shotgun approach…get several gifts and hope some of them hit the bull’s-eye. With less disposable income or a more thrifty mentality, the shotgun approach is unpractical and in some cases, not possible.

It’s a clever way to promote JCPenney outside of their core audience by inviting consumers to review what they have to offer. I don’t know if it will translate into more sales for the retailer, after all you can buy the gift elsewhere, but it is an opportunity to refresh the brand’s image.

Craig Sundstrom
12 years 6 months ago

Maybe a little, maybe a lot…but if a total stranger has a better idea of what your significant other wants than you do, I’m guessing you’re going to have major problems the other 364 days as well.

William Passodelis
12 years 6 months ago

I really like this campaign by JCP; it is smart, sends a great message, while at the same time being comedic–and there are some guys who really need the thought stimulation.

I actually KNOW of a guy who bought his wife a vacuum cleaner a couple years ago! The response was exactly what you would expect–the last two years, after asking my advice, it has been diamond jewelry and that has had a considerably better reception!

Mark Price
Mark Price
12 years 5 months ago

The Doghouse campaign is a light-hearted way to build the brand equity of JCP without resorting to price discounts and coupons. The campaign reinforces JCP as a source for gifts that your wife will appreciate (note that the campaign does not address wives who cannot find gifts for their husbands!), and has a strong viral component.

Retailers must focus on building relationships with customers based on an exchange of value that transcends price. Otherwise, the curse of Black Friday will fall on them–loads of customers with only one goal–to get the lowest price possible, even if it drives the company out of business.


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