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 brands.
The emphasis on value reflects a new frugality among consumers, who have been beset by unemployment, tighter
Best Buy "Blue Shirt" Crystal Stroupe and company trend-tracker Jin Chang flank a fully featured Insignia LCD TV.
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 design.
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 assortment are:
Â· simplicity, as evidenced by an abundance of wireless Bluetooth devices;
Â· social networking, represented by WiFi-enabled digital picture frames and the Facebook-friendly USB camcorder; and
Â· 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 remodeled stores.