New Concept Takes Best Buy In Different Direction

Oct 04, 2004

By George Anderson

Best Buy has announced it is testing a new health and wellness products store targeted to women 45 and up.

The new concept, Eq Life, will sell a variety of health and wellness items including nutritional supplements and exercise equipment, and offer services such as a nail salon.
Best Buy is also considering offering pharmacy services in the 13,000 to 15,000-square-foot Eq Life units.

Although the new concept is far removed from Best Buy’s core business, this is not the first time an electronics chain has gone far a field to start a new retail business. A
report in The Business Journal of Minneapolis/St. Paul points out Best Buy competitor Circuit City opened CarMax, the used car superstore, in the nineties with some success
before spinning it off as a separate business.

Russ McGinty, senior vice president of retail at Madison Marquette, said, “It’s a different retail concept altogether, but I think it might work very well. There will be a trend
to service this baby-boomer age group because they spend more than any other group.”

“A new concept is very difficult to pull off. You can’t just bully your way in,” said George Whalin, chief executive of Retail Management Consultants. “If you look at your successful
new concepts, the only reason they’ve succeeded is that consumers have fallen in love with what you’re doing.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are you surprised by Best Buy’s launch of a new retail concept that is so different from its core business? What do you think was
behind this decision and what will it take for the Eq Life to succeed?

Our first reaction to this story was disbelief.

Despite Best Buy’s public proclamations over the past year about becoming more customer-centric, it still has a less than sterling reputation for service.
It will certainly need to improve in this area if it expects this new concept to take wing.

George Anderson – Moderator

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