Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where We’re Comfortable Buying Consumer Electronics Now

Americans have a lot of consumer electronics in our homes! NPD reported at RetailVision last week that 85% of households now have Home DVD players and printers, 84% have desktop PCs, over half have MP3 players and flat-panel TVs, and just under half have a notebook PC. The data show consumer electronics have become fairly ubiquitous in today’s American homes. And as technology has become more pervasive, we have become more comfortable owning and buying it.

At the same event, the Consumer Electronics Association presented results from a recent survey about consumer buying preferences. They found that 25 % of people would be willing to buy consumer electronics products from Starbucks, 30% from Ikea, 40% from Bed, Bath and Beyond and almost 60% from Home Depot. So, what does this mean for category leader Best Buy? It means increased competition.

Last year in researching the home center market we learned that people go to Home Depot when they feel pretty confident about what they’re doing. Given the high household penetration of many consumer electronics products, it’s not surprising that most consumers would buy CE products from Home Depot.

Should Best Buy be worried? Hardly. For Home Depot to make a go of it, they’ll have to change a lot. Top priority would be to get more employees in the stores to answer people’s questions. The folks at Home Depot are friendly enough and if you can find them, they are actually helpful. Problem is, for cost reasons, employees are few and far between at most Home Depots. Even though we’re comfortable buying CE, we still have questions, or unique situations that require talking to someone.

And like a good category leader, Best Buy isn’t standing still. Earlier this month, they announced plans to open 8 Best Buy Express kiosks (CE vending machines) in September at major airports around the country.

Look for them to continue innovating the customer experience.

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