Best Buy's Diamond as Big as the Ritz
The Kennedy family connection no doubt has helped, but enormously talented Ed Schlossberg would do just fine on his own.
ESI's studio d is 5,000 carpeted square feet with gentle lighting, blond wood, mood music, fresh-cut flowers and a yellow-and-white color scheme.
"It also provides a no-pressure consultative selling experience akin to Nordstrom, Pottery Barn or Williams-Sonoma," writes Alan Wolf in ESI's press release. "Staff members are personable, chatty and promote browsing, while empowering signage encourages customers to 'Play,' 'Learn,' 'Remember' and 'Explore.' "
Matthew Moore of ESI describes it as "community-centric retailing, where the store becomes part of your life." He added, "We have had the luxury of not having to generate lots of revenue initially."
Is Best Buy spending its research money wisely?
The Bang & Olufsen Epiphany
A full 180 degrees from this fuzzy, feel-good approach to customer research was Bang & Olufsen's experience many years ago. Headquartered in Denmark, B&O creates the highest-tech, artistically exquisite audio and video entertainment centers.
In the 1970s, one of my novels was optioned to the movies (no film was ever made, alas) and I took the money and bought a state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen stereo rig that gave me bragging rights to owning a work of design on display at the Museum of Modern Art. I loved it then; I love it now.
For years, B&O operated on the assumption that its core customers were 25- to 40-year-old high-income urban yuppies. One day, an employee came across some cartons filled with warranty cards that customers had dutifully filled out and mailed in. With no system in place to process these documents, they were stored and forgotten. On hearing of the find, a marketing person decided to send them out to a marketing database company for analysis.
What came back changed the way Bang & Olufsen did business. It turned out the core customers were rich, high achieving suburbanites age 50+. Suddenly the company's entire marketing model was revamped—from the publications it advertised in to where it opened its stores.