Less than two years after its arrival in the UK, Best Buy is to disappear from these shores. A fleeting blip on the UK retail landscape that appears to have barely registered on consumers’ radar.
In the end, it only had 11 stores – not quite the hundreds it predicted – and stacked up losses of around £140m during its brief tenure.
It is a shame that Best Buy didn’t do better in the UK, but not really a surprise. It has a great website, mobile platforms and customer service but that wasn’t enough to sustain the UK venture.
It talked a good game behind the scenes but this just didn’t seem to come across in public and consumers just didn’t get it.
Yes it was a difficult time to be launching, the downturn meant that consumers just weren’t spending on big ticket items like they had been in the past, but Best Buy didn’t put its money where its mouth was and do enough marketing to excite consumers and get them engaged with the brand, in stores and spending.
After an initial strong launch campaign for the first store in Thurrock, activity dwindled.
There was a lot of local activity around store launches including radio, print and outdoor. Best Buy also sponsored the IndigO2 venue and partnered with Everton Football Club but there was no national TV activity and any press activity that there was tended to be price led.
There was nothing that made a big deal about the Best Buy brand, which in the States, is huge and really stands for something.
Here, no one really knew what Best Buy stood for or what made it any different from Comet or Dixons.
The difference was that while Best Buy was doing nothing, Dixons launched one of its biggest ever national TV ad campaigns, enlisting the help of Star Wars characters, alongside rejuvenating its stores and creating dual branded PC World/Currys megastores and overhauling its customer service proposition with the introduction of Knowhow.
Each of which was another nail in the coffin for Best Buy in the UK.
Best Buy’s failure is a lesson for any retailer looking to launch in the UK, or in fact for any retailer already here, to invest in their brand, not just functional marketing.
If people don’t know about, or care about, your brand they won’t shop with you.