retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

CNBC reports that Best Buy “is expanding its health and wellness offerings to 600 stores nationwide,” from an apparently successful test in 40 stores.

“Product offerings include products related to running, walking, swimming and yoga such as heart-rate monitoring watches, pedometers, headphones, yoga mats, scales, blood pressure monitors and other products.”

The story makes clear that Best Buy is pursuing this for financial, as well as strategic reasons - its sales are not what they used to be, in part because of competition from discounters both in the virtual and brick-and-mortar arenas. And so, the retailer is looking for new - and yet connected - areas in which it can make an impact.

That’s an interesting lesson ... and one that food retailers, especially those looking to differentiate themselves through healthy foods (though not defined as “health food stores”) ought to take to heart.

How about pedometers in the produce department? Or blood pressure monitors hanging over the frozen food?

The broader lesson, I think, is the necessity to always think about the mission in different ways ... to consider all the ways< in which a retailer can be relevant to the shopper and still adhere to the core mission.

It is critical to think that way, because there’s always a retailer out there looking to steal share and sales. If Best Buy is selling health and wellness equipment, there’s nothing to say that it also can’t make a limited but targeted foray into the food business, offering certain kinds of foods that connect to the equipment it is selling.

And if you don’t believe it, remember that there once was a time when Walmart didn’t sell food.

And that’s our Wednesday Eye-Opener.
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