Best Buy Creates Female-Friendly Store
By Tom Ryan
With input from 40 local female customers, Best Buy Co. has opened a new store in a southeast Denver suburb that it hopes better caters to women without alienating men. Among other things, the store features natural light streaming in from skylights, blue and earth tone carpeting, and flat-screen TVs and appliances placed in model rooms showing how they would look in a customer’s home.
An article by The Associate Press noted that with the universal appeal of MP3 players, digital cameras and laptops, women are making and influencing more electronics purchases.
“Best Buy has traditionally served men very well,” Ginger Sorvari Bucklin, Best Buy’s director of Winning With Women, told the newswire service. “Best Buy’s roots 40 years ago were with high-end audiophiles. Because technology has changed so much, we know women make 45 percent of electronics purchases. This is about serving women better.”
Besides a shift away from the chain’s warehouse-like exteriors, female customers wanted to see how products fit into their own lives and what products work together. In one display, Apple laptops and iPods are displayed on dark wood cabinets atop white counters, with accessories like red and green laptop cases displayed nearby.
What is typically labeled the “home theater” section in a Best Buy store was changed to “family room” because women connoted “home theater” as only for affluent homes. The bathroom features a lower sink for children, lotion near the paper towels, and a private room with carpeting, a rocking chair, free diapers and softer lighting for new mothers.
From employees, women wanted eye contact.
In its own release, Best Buy said that that besides insights from local women, the store design ideas came from its Women’s Leadership Forum, or WoLF pack, a group of employees who promote women’s interests in Best Buy stores.
The retailer also said the store was tailored to meet local community needs. Room displays exemplify elements of a traditional Colorado home such as softer lighting, lifestyle imagery and more neutral-tone colors in display areas.
Some changes cater to all customers such as English and Spanish store labels and toy shopping carts for the kids. Gift-wrapping will be offered during the holidays at the request of many male customers.
“For electronic retailers the real goal is to treat both sexes more equally than they have in the past,” Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group Inc., told The Associated Press. “Those things that they believe are beneficial to women, I think in a lot of cases those things are going to make men feel more comfortable as well.”
Discussion Questions: What can electronics stores do to create a more comfortable and inviting shopping environment for women? Does Best Buy risk alienating its core male customer base with the types of changes it is making in Denver?
- New Best Buy Store Designed With Women In Mind – The Associated Press/CBC4Denver.com
- New Best Buy Store in Denver Designed From Customer Insight – Best Buy/Business Wire/MarketWatch