Remember the days when you needed a television, printer or camera and you ran over to Best Buy, the big Blue Box store?
I recently saw an interview with Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy. She’s an interesting leader to start with but what I find so fascinating is after 20 years in various roles at Best Buy, her latest bet is that the retailer will be a critical partner with senior citizens on the technology front and that market will be a big part of their plans to hit the $50 billion sales milestone in 2025.
Currently, the health care market is a $3.5 trillion (yes, with a T) market and Best Buy is betting that part of that lucrative market will be their next big source of revenue, specifically the sector of the market that deals with the part of the population in this country that are 65 and older and as people have watched their own parents struggle with “aging in place” and living alternatives for the elderly, this more tech savvy demographic will want to figure out more creative ways to live in their own homes as they age and will start thinking now about the role that technology can play in allowing them to do so. That is where and why Best Buy is making this bet given the number of homes that the company already visits to install technology and serve as a the in-home IT support for so many Americans. Think of extending that existing support – and making an aggressive effort to serve the elderly.
Just last year, the company spent $1 billion on acquisitions, namely GreatCall, the company that sells emergency-response systems for the elderly that already has 1 million users. Add to that mix, Critical Signal Technologies, which provides personal emergency response systems. All of those pieces position Best Buy more aggressively to better serve health care customers. They have also done what many NTCA members have done with some of their tech support services – with an annual fee or membership for unlimited tech support. (As someone who has spent many hours this weekend trying to set my dad’s Facebook account up from afar, I would easily pay someone to make this house call instead of my really futile efforts to do this over FaceTime, text messages and emails!). The number of consumers willing to purchase this service has doubled from 1 million to 2 million in less than a year. People simply don’t want the hassle and seniors might be less inclined to mess with technology they are not comfortable with.
From a company that looked doomed only a few short years ago, this turn around and clear vision will make them fun to watch. And I think rural broadband providers might pick up some interesting business strategies in this space along the way!