Brand Experience Brief: Best Buy

This Brand Experience Brief covers Best Buy.  I visited the location in Richfield, MN, and found that instead of presenting a cohesive Best Buy brand experience, the store provides a collection of shopping experiences for different brands. Take a look:

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Best Buy in Richfield, MN from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.



Today’s Brand Experience Brief takes a look at how Best Buy, the big box electronics retailer, has become less of a store and more like a shopping mall of electronics brands.  I visited its location in Richfield, MN, which is just down the street from company headquarters, so it’s a good bet this store represents the Best Buy brand at its best.

What I discovered was not a cohesive Best Buy brand experience, but a collection of shopping experiences for different brands.  From Apple to XBOX, each brand had its own branded merchandising area.  There was a very large Windows section featuring computers, software, and accessories all under the Windows banner.  Samsung had a few dedicated areas — including a store within a store for its TV offerings, with featured promotion of the brand’s new curved TVs. Lenovo shared an NFL-themed display table with Microsoft in a prominent spot.

I was surprised to see set-ups from Amazon and Google, not your typical hardware brands and definitely Best Buy’s strongest competitors, but I suppose if they have offerings that Best Buy customers want and they’re willing to pay for branded space, then Best Buy welcomes them.  This branded merchandising approach extended into the video games section where PlayStation had a branded presence and even into home appliances where Dyson took over a display area.

Magnolia, the higher end home theater retailer, and Pacific Sales, the kitchen and bath appliance retailer, are two brands that Best Buy acquired in the 2000s.  Each of them had their own store within a store concept.

Even Best Buy’s own service brand, Geek Squad, seemed like a standalone entity.  Actually in addition to the standard Geek Squad stations found in most stores where you can drop off your hardware for service, this store also was home to Solution Central, Geek Squad’s version of the Genius Bar in Apple stores.   Through Solution Central, you can get one-on-one consultation and training and sign up for group classes.  Neither the Geek Squad station or Solution Central referenced the Best Buy brand.

The store did retain some of its more traditional merchandising approach with rows of DVDs for sale, a few banks of TVs, a very cluttered display of smartwatches and fitness trackers that was difficult to navigate, and your standard shelves of vacuum cleaners — but these products got lost when compared to the branded displays.

The only real visible statement of the Best Buy brand in the store were all the Blue Shirts — employees decked out in blue polo shirts.  And perhaps this is a sign of how Best Buy sees itself and the value of its brand.  Best Buy has become a destination for the product brands you’re looking for and it provides access to service and sales for those brands, rather than Best Buy being the brand in demand.  In a world where e-commerce continues to steal share from brick and mortar stores, this may be the most practical strategy.  But I can’t help but think that Best Buy is missing the opportunity to create an experience above and beyond its products the way a Nordstroms or even a Target does.

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