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Best Buy Sees ‘Connected’ Holiday Season

New York – Best Buy is not only dreaming, but planning for, a
connected Christmas – one where its wide assortment of CE technology,
Geek
Squad to install and service consumers, and its ability to compete on
price
will be a winning formula this holiday season.

“We see this as a ‘connected Christmas’ and we are really
excited about that,” said CEO Brian Dunn at the retailer’s annual
Holiday
Preview, here, this morning.

Illustrating its breadth of product, Dunn said Best Buy is
the only place where you can buy the Sony Reader, Nook by Barnes and
Noble and
Amazon’s Kindle, “and you can see them all side by side.”

But, he noted, “Let’s be really clear. It is a
tough
environment out there. It is episodic with the highest highs… but the
holiday
episode is upon us and it could be a great holiday season.”

Concerning the “episodic” market, in this case the sluggish
summer for TVs, Dunn said, “It would not have been good to promote TVs
[then]
when consumers were not focused on them. You must strike when they are
focused.”

This fall consumers should be and Mike Vitelli,
president/Americas, said that in TV Best Buy will be featuring its own
Dynex
and Insignia house brands in the fourth quarter, but “established brands
like
Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba… we will have an unparalleled assortment of
strong
and aggressive price points.”

On the service side, George Sherman, senior VP of services,
said that Best Buy now serves “four channels” with the Geek Squad at the
service center in Best Buy stores, the ability to do car installations,
online
and phone support.

Sherman noted that the Geek Squad used to be split up
between PC and home theater installations. “New technology requires new
home
networking installations. You now need teams with both capabilities.”
The
company teamed former PC and home theater experts together to go on
calls and
now they understand both technologies.

He said between Christmas and New Year’s Best Buy will offer
free tech support via the Geek Squad.

Dunn said consumers can open gifts on Christmas morning
bought at Best Buy, “And when you begin to set them up you’ll have the
Geek
Squad online or on the phone to help the installation. That’s
compelling.”

But he was emphatic that, “You do not win [at retail] in
November and December… you have to earn that business throughout the
year, when
[consumers] touch your brand.”

Still, Best Buy is taking nothing for granted. For instance
when asked about sluggish TV sales and about pricing for Black Friday
and the
entire season, he replied, “I think great prices are table stakes. There
will
be smoking hot prices at Black Friday and then it will be about
[value-added
services]. We are confident about winning because there we will be there
in
pricing and services” as well as selection.

Aside from free online or phone tech support from Best Buy between
Christmas and New Year’s the chain announced a variety of moves to
support its
efforts. Among them are:

  • Best Buy Mobile, which has 100 stand-alone
    stores currently, will grow by as many as 50 more by Thanksgiving if
    construction in all locations is completed on time.

  • Beginning October 1 Vitelli said that Best Buy
    Mobile will offer “free phone Fridays” with special deals on popular
    cellphones.

  • While CDs and DVDs will have less space on a
    typical Best Buy floor depending upon the location, the entire
    assortment will
    be available online. There will be more Blu-ray available, Vitelli said.
    The
    vacated space will be taken by motion space gaming and an area of
    handling
    trade-ins of video games, the latter of which is being rolled out now.

  • Best Buy will offer its “best financing offers
    ever” making it “faster and easier” for qualified consumers to buy TVs
    and home
    theater systems and “connect them with broadband services.

  • Best Buy’s ad budget will spend more on than
    last year. While Dunn would not qualify the size of the Q4 ad budget Advertising Age
    reported
    that it will emphasize TV ads.

  • It will hire 29,000 workers for the season, the
    same as last year.

For more on Best Buy’s
holiday plans and a profile of CEO Brian Dunn check the October 4 print
edition
of TWICE or visit

www.twice.com/oct4


on Oct. 4.

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