Best Buy Builds a Store for Jill…and Buzz, Barry and Ray
By Rick Moss
Under the directive of chief executive Bradbury H. Anderson, Best Buy is taking a strong initiative to move “Customer Centricity” beyond the realm of marketing buzz phrases.
In fact, according to a Washington Post article by staff writer Ariana Eunjung Cha, the electronics retailer is retooling certain locations just for Buzz — code name for
a shopper profile that translates to “the young tech enthusiast.”
Among the 67 California stores that the chain began converting last fall, some are being remade to attract the likes of Barry (the wealthy professional man), Ray (the family
man) and, perhaps most notably, Jill, the suburban mom-type typically intimidated by the flashing LEDs and tech-jargon that fills Best Buy outlets.
Mr. Anderson has reportedly drawn his inspiration from the book, “Angel Customers and Demon Customers” written by Columbia University Professor Larry Selden. The new company
mission he’s promoting calls for nothing short of reinventing how the company thinks about its customers and, more importantly, how it treats them in the store.
Picture the scene at the Santa Rosa Best Buy store #120 — a “Jill store” — as described in the Post article:
“Pink, red and white balloons festoon the entrance. TVs play ‘The Incredibles.’ There is an expanded selection of home appliances as well as new displays stocked with Hello Kitty,
Barbie and SpongeBob SquarePants electronic equipment. Nooks are set up to look like dorms or recreation rooms where mom and the children can play with the latest high-tech gadgets
at their leisure.”
Of the 210 Santa Rosa employees, about a dozen are assigned to the “Jill segment team.” Acting as personal shopping associates, they sport pastel attire, as opposed to the usual
Best Buy royal blues, and station themselves at a central island decorated with purple flowers and stuffed animals.
Stores in the D.C. area, in contrast, are being redesigned to give “Barrys” the rock star treatment, with leather couches poised before wide-screen TVs bathed in luxurious high-end
Additionally, the newly renovated locations feature new quick checkouts “expressly” for the target profile customers. Although the company says anyone can use them, they’re easy
to miss if not pointed out to customers by the special service representatives.
And then there’s the other side of the customer centricity picture, developed by the chain following its extensive analysis of purchase data, local census numbers, customer surveys
and focus groups — identifying the less-than-desirable shoppers. Best Buy will be editing these people from its mailing lists and has put a more rigid policy in place to deal
with repeat returners.
Results from the converted stores are being reported by Best Buy. Since October of last year, the Santa Rosa store has enjoyed a 30 percent boost in Jill spending, raising the
expected store’s revenue from $50 million to as high as $80 million this year. Customer loyalty for the outlet is said to be among the top five in the country. Overall, the company
said the customer-centric stores saw an 8.4 percent increase in sales in the quarter ended May 28 vs. year-ago.
Best Buy’s roll out of the new customized environments is planned to continue throughout its 660 stores across the country over the next three years.
Moderator’s Comment: Are the long-promised benefits of data-mining and customer-centricity strategies finally reaching fruition at Best Buy?
“The great tragedy of Science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” – Thomas Henry Huxley
I know that many of us are rooting for Best Buy. Finally, someone doing something tangible with all that customer data, and in a way that makes a real impact
with customers as they enter the story. Let’s hope Best Buy’s science won’t be spoiled by an “ugly fact”…that in making the judgment to gear entire locations to simplified shopper
profiles, they wind up turning off the other “un-named” customers who get short-shrift from store associates. –
Rick Moss – Moderator