Best Buy campaign highlights its ‘insurmountable advantage’ – its people

Discussion
Photo: Best Buy
May 10, 2018
George Anderson

Best Buy has been one of the true, feel-good turnaround stories in the retail business in recent years. Now, the consumer electronics retailer has launched a new campaign that focuses on the people, products and services that set it apart from rivals ranging from Amazon.com to Walmart.

The new campaign and Best Buy’s first logo refresh in more than three decades launched yesterday. Best Buy’s Expert Service. Unbeatable Price” tagline, which was central to its messaging during its turnaround phase, has been retired. The new tagline —Let’s talk about what’s possible.” — highlights the stories of the chain’s workforce and how its blue shirts can help customers find and optimally use the technology sold in Best Buy’s stores and online.

“Telling the story of our people — and how we make a meaningful impact on customers’ lives — is at the heart of this work,” said Whit Alexander, Best Buy CMO, in a statement. “Our people are our insurmountable advantage.”

Best Buy will launch new commercials and online videos beginning on Sunday. The spots, shot in black and white except for the blue shirts worn by Best Buy associates, focus on conversations between customers and staff. In the end, the blue shirts help customers solve their needs.

“The core of what differentiates Best Buy vs. everyone else — and makes us awesome for customers — is that we understand your unique needs and how tech can enhance your life,” said Mr. Alexander.

The spots are directed by Academy Award winning documentarian Errol Morris with voice-over provided by actress Scarlett Johansson.

Best Buy’s new campaign and logo follow the announcement last fall by CEO Hubert Joly that the retailer was moving past its “Renew Blue” turnaround and moving into a strategic growth phase known as “Best Buy 2020: Building The New Blue.”

“Our Renew Blue transformation was about improving the customer experience and fixing what was broken,” Mr. Joly said. “Building on what we have accomplished, we are excited by the opportunities we have in this next chapter to grow the company by helping customers pursue their passions and enrich their lives with the help of technology, which is a much bigger idea and one that is rich with opportunities.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that Best Buy’s people give the chain an “insurmountable advantage” over retailing rivals? Is Best Buy’s new people-focused messaging the right approach in the current competitive retailing environment?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The message of the commercials highlighting the expert advice offered by its people is great. Changing the logo and slogan is a big mistake."
"The messaging is good — but is Best Buy really, really delivering on the promise behind the scenes? And can they sustain that over time?"
"In a day of AI and fears of technology taking jobs away, they should double down on focusing on the people."

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23 Comments on "Best Buy campaign highlights its ‘insurmountable advantage’ – its people"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Best Buy is absolutely right to focus on its people and the service they deliver to the customer. While I would not say this is an insurmountable advantage — there are many other companies that deliver good service, including some online — it is definitely a strong differentiator.

As for the logo, I would love to know how much they paid to have it refreshed. It looks like it was made by a 5-year-old in Microsoft Paint!

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Shades o’ The Gap’s 2010 new logo fiasco!

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Ah, the memories!

Max Goldberg
Guest

Best Buy turned its fortunes around by matching Amazon’s prices and retraining its salespeople, so it seems a logical extension to feature those people in its ads. Those ads have a secondary effect of reinforcing the importance of its employees in a very tight job market.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

There is no such thing as an “insurmountable advantage” in retail or any other vertical. While Best Buy’s turnaround should be applauded, stating that you have an insurmountable advantage in any aspect of your business is naive and dangerous. Those are the type of statements that come back to haunt you. Leveraging and touting the capabilities of your employees is commendable and fitting in an ‘Amazonian’ landscape, but with all human being founded initiatives, the ability to deliver on the promise will be at the individual “blue shirt” level.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Nothing is “insurmountable” in retail. But it’s nice marketing fodder, for sure. Having said that, focusing on the Blue Shirts is super smart and really, in this world of “one click” for just about anything anytime anywhere, same day is the best possible strategy. We did a study called “Amazon Can’t Do That” a few years back and the clear winner was great customer service, by a human. It has been so easy for retailers to take their eye off that ball you need not wonder why AMZN has flourished. Good for BBY. Stay the course.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

Best Buy is trying to capitalize on the now classic line that “stores must differentiate with their people.” Great to see the campaign, and support from the very top management. But in the words of Yoda, “There is no try, only do.” Best Buy can’t afford to not deliver. In terms of “insurmountable advantage,” everyone in Blue needs to remember that what was extraordinary service yesterday, is today’s customer standard expectation.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

Right — the campaign is meaningless unless it’s backed up with the promised service in store. Best Buy has the additional opportunity to implement technologies to support their staff — such as computer recognition of best customers or easy access to transaction history — to bring their service to the next level.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Retailers have moved away from merchandising their staff which is curious when product knowledge plays such a great role in consumer decision-making. This applies to so many product lines from electronics to sporting goods to fashion. Given the investment in staff training and the potential of staff to influence upset and cross-selling on the consumer path to purchase, to not fully use staff capability in traffic generation and conversion is to overlook a significant business asset.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

In an age where consumers can buy whatever they want from any number of places – in-store, online, catalogs TV – Best Buy is smart to push its people because they are what sets any retailer apart from another.

I have to say that the customer service in every Best Buy store I have visited this year has been exceptional. The associates are well versed in what they sell and there are a lot of them on the sales floor. You only have to look at our Twitter feed to see what we think of the associates in Best Buy’s Algonquin, Illinois store. (Shout out to Tim S.)

Lots of companies talk about the importance of good customer service, but it’s really only lip service. “Let’s talk about what’s possible.” I’d say Best Buy is off to a great start.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Best Buy’s key differentiators are their empowered, educated and passionate salespeople. That one-on-one consultatory sales experience is what is driving customers back to the big box electronics store. I wouldn’t say it is an “insurmountable advantage,” however, it’s certainly a competitive advantage. While instinctively we are all turning to our online and mobile channels to research, shop via Amazon, consumers ultimately enjoy having a guided shopping experience, especially for such high ticketed and complex items.

Retailers such as Best Buy are wise to drive storytelling, building closer relationships with their local communities, and forging solid connections with their customers. This is what is keeping brick and mortar retail relevant, and bridging the digital divide gap.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Let’s be honest. Best Buy’s turnaround was making their stores Store-Within-A-Store and having vendors man them. I’m not sure how this is their people.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Short and sweet: it always comes down to relationships established by associates with customers. This emphasis really creates a “contract with the customer” that lifts the associate’s self-belief that they are the the experience, and responsible to supply each customer with a new level of extraordinary service. Great move!

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The message of the commercials highlighting the expert advice offered by its people is great. Changing the logo and slogan is a big mistake. “Let’s talk about what is possible” does not say employee service and expertise. There is a mismatch between the message of the commercials and the new slogan. Why change a logo that is so recognizable? An update for the sake of updating is a big mistake, especially when it does not match your message.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
2 years 5 months ago
Difficult to label any advantage in business today as “insurmountable.” What Best Buy has done very well over the past several years is recognize and address the onslaught of online business in the categories they sell. Part of their success has been the Geek Squad and having expertise on the sales floor to inform the customer with the why and how of electronics. The store within the store concept and vendor partnerships have also helped. In today’s environment when the same product can be purchased online or in a store and deliveries becoming faster and more reliable, it becomes more difficult to differentiate other than on price. Best Buy is betting, and correctly so, that as technology and connected gadgets become more mainstream, there will be a rise in consumer anxiety reminiscent of the old “how do you work the TV remote.” The answer is to build on the trust developed with their “blue shirts” and provide that insurmountable advantage. Good strategy, easily copied, but difficult to sustain and execute. Best Buy does have an… Read more »
Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

There’s no question that each retailer’s front line people are the core of their competitive advantage. And Best Buy seems to have done a good job in building their team.

But should they be the focus of their advertising? This campaign risks raising consumer expectations that their people can never meet. Best Buy remains a massive national chain with vast numbers of employees. By setting expectations in tech — an arena which frustrates many consumers — Best Buy is setting itself up to fail to deliver to the vague shopper vision of expectations.

I’m reminded of endless (bad) campaigns by the big investment firms claiming their people will get you a better retirement for your money. In fact, it all depends on WHICH specific person you’re dealing with.

Yes, people are the core to retail success. No, don’t put it in your advertising in that way — you can only fail.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

I have no opinion on the new logo. I do believe anytime you include the human touch in your advertising, you are making a good decision. Best Buy has made some good decisions since the turnaround. This should prove to be another smart choice.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

Best Buy is right to market its people. Associates and other in-store staff are the people that will drive the experience and that is what will differentiate for the company. Of course, execution is critical as marketing a great customer experience through its people without providing them with the tools and training to enable a great customer experience will be the worst possible outcome. Love the turnaround story and applaud Best Buy for great execution of their Renew Blue strategy.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust
The challenge I see with Best Buy’s campaign is making it authentic and genuine. It is way too easy for one store manager acting like a jerk, or a few disaffected employees ganging up on Twitter or YouTube to make this look like all sizzle and no steak. And once that’s out, the message isn’t just ruined, it makes the company look like the worst kind of rapacious corporate machine that is exactly what most people want to avoid. The messaging is good — but is Best Buy really, really delivering on the promise behind the scenes? And can they sustain that over time? I’m not saying it’s impossible — Costco and Container Store always get rave reviews for how they treat their employees, but it’s built into their culture and their brand promise from top to bottom. I’m also not saying it’s impossible for Best Buy, but for them, it is definitely a case of remaking a culture that once completely devalued the store employee, and cheated customers to boot. It’s pretty hard to… Read more »
Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Best Buy’s people can provide valuable advice and suggestions to its customers, especially to those who do not have an in-depth understanding of the technology they are interested in buying. This personal touch in the store provides an advantage that online sellers cannot provide. With regard to retail competitors, Best Buy’s associates will need to continue to be educated to stay ahead of them. While I am not a fan of the new Best Buy tag line, the message about helping customers in the stores is the right one.

Jeff Miller
Guest

I agree that well trained and quality people give Best Buy “an” advantage but certainly not “insurmountable.” The history of retail tells too many stories of companies doing great, hitting a tough patch and then pivoting away from what made them successful over the long haul or focusing on the next new shiny object. I hope they keep investing in their people and really make them true problem solvers.

The marketing message of being people focused is great and I hope they continue to focus on it. In a day of AI and fears of technology taking jobs away, they should double down on focusing on the people.

Not sure they needed a new logo or even a tagline but when a new CMO comes on board, they love to make their mark.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

No advantage is insurmountable, but as a customer I’d rather interact with Best Buy associates rather than commissioned sales people. And, yes, I think de-emphasizing price and emphasizing humanity may strike exactly the right note.

Ray Riley
BrainTrust

Their people have to be their differentiation. The Geek Squad model could be a growing opportunity for further specialized service with IoT, smart homes, and even as farfetched as dedicated technical services and support. Want a web developer? Get a Geek Squad consultant over for coffee tomorrow at 11 a.m. to talk through your project. With Circuit City, CompUSA, and a number of other players long gone, Best Buy could become the de facto electronics services arm for or against Amazon.

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Braintrust
"The message of the commercials highlighting the expert advice offered by its people is great. Changing the logo and slogan is a big mistake."
"The messaging is good — but is Best Buy really, really delivering on the promise behind the scenes? And can they sustain that over time?"
"In a day of AI and fears of technology taking jobs away, they should double down on focusing on the people."

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