New York – Best Buy plans to send a value message to cash-strapped consumers this fall by
focusing on its competitively priced private-label brands.
At a holiday product preview held here yesterday, the No. 1 CE
chain showed a beefed-up offering of TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, sound bars, USB
camcorders and accessories under its Insignia, Rocketfish and Init house
The emphasis on value reflects a new frugality among consumers,
who have been beset by unemployment, tighter
credit, and diminished real estate
values, said Jin Chang, Best Buy’s trend senior director. Unfortunately, the
shift to thrift appears to be a long-term lifestyle change, he said, and will
continue long after the holiday season.
Best Buy recently created Chang’s trend department, headed by
trend marketing VP and major appliances chief Liz Hassler, to track cultural,
design and macroeconomic changes that could be incorporated into product
Besides low prices, Best Buy is also stressing value-added
features in its private-label assortment, such as improved sound on its new
Insignia Advanced Series LCD TVs, which incorporate audio and EQ bass extension
technologies by Audyssey. The 42-inch model is a 120Hz, 1080p set with a
dynamic contrast ratio of 15,000:1 and retail price of $899.
The Insignia Advanced Series will also include a BD profile 2.0
Blu-ray Disc player with BDLive, due in September, which will also offer
Netflix streaming, a USB port and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Other key trends that influenced Best Buy’s fourth-quarter
simplicity, as evidenced by an abundance of
wireless Bluetooth devices;
networking, represented by WiFi-enabled digital picture frames and the
Facebook-friendly USB camcorder; and
personalization, as reflected in the changeable
faceplates of a combination iPod dock and alarm clock, also under the Insignia-brand, and a laser-etching service
by Coveroo that’s beginning to appear in select Best Buy stores.
Best Buy will also introduce a selection of novelty gift items
under the Sharper Image brand, including an electric corkscrew and a rotating
iPhone dock, and will merchandise those
and other holiday offerings within a new “Gifts and Gadgets” department that
will take floor space from the entertainment software section.
The new department is part of a major floor plan overhaul that
will also create “home life” and digital media sections within new and