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Best Buy Adds Mitsubishi Line

Best Buy said it has reached an agreement to carry select Mitsubishi digital television displays, DVD players and VCRs in its more than 500 retail store locations beginning this fall.

The agreement gives Mitsubishi, which in recent years had focused its distribution mainly on dealers with value-added selling floors, a new relationship with one of the largest high-volume consumer electronics retail chains in the country.

In addition to specialty home theater dealers, Mitsubishi already distributes to such national chains as Sears Roebuck & Co, and key regional retailers including Good Guys, Tweeter, Ultimate Electronics and The Wiz.

Mitsubishi “has created a select line of products to satisfy [Best Buy’s] needs,” stated Max Wasinger, Mitsubishi sales and marketing senior VP. This will include 10 models at launch.

Six of those models will be derivatives from within the Mitsubishi series of products. The company produces three product classes, including the core Mitsubishi series, the step-up Medallion series and the high-end Diamond series.

Best Buy’s digital rear-projection products will range from a 50-inch 4:3 upgradable HDTV monitor to a 65W-inch upgradable monitor and a 65W-inch fully integrated HDTV set. Currently, Best Buy has no plans to carry any of Mitsubishi’s new flat-panel products.

Other Mitsubishi products for Best Buy include two DVD players, a HDTV D-VHS VCR and a 4-head analog VCR.

Bob Perry, Mitsubishi marketing VP, said his company worked very carefully with Best Buy to devise its derivative product line so it would not jeopardize the merchandising mix of other key dealers.

“Our strategy is to make sure that as these products gain wider market acceptance, that we are part of that transition,” explained Perry. “As products mature and their distribution becomes broader, we felt we needed a way to better participate in that as a company to maintain critical mass.”

Perry said Mitsubishi’s traditional dealers would remain the Diamond and Medallion dealers, “and their product will remain their product, as part of our concept for getting the right products to the right dealers.”

To ensure all dealers will receive adequate supply, Perry said Mitsubishi has “dramatically increased the capacity of the factory so we will have zero issues in meeting the requirement of Best Buy and those of our traditional distribution.”

Perry said Mitsubishi “has a very strong servicing and [dealer] education plan that forms the foundation of our relationship. Mitsubishi has very high standards in that area and we certainly did not relax them for Best Buy. They are a different kind of retailer, so they require a different kind of servicing and support, but our standards in terms of display set up and content of display are unchanged.”

Commenting on the arrangement, Mike London, Best Buy merchandising executive VP said, “Mitsubishi’s leadership position in high-quality consumer electronics products significantly enhances our offerings. This agreement reinforces our position as the destination and brand of choice for new and emerging products with the evolving technology consumer.”