Best Buy and Branding

Upon hearing that Dell will start selling PCs at Best Buy, my first thought was “I wonder if they’re going to copy Apple’s Best Buy store-within-a-store concept.”

Then I thought, why don’t more electronics manufacturers do this? When you go to a big, high-end deparment store — Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc. — the men’s department has several dozen “mini-stores” for each designer (Nautica, Ralph Lauren, etc.). The mini-stores don’t have their own cash registers or inventory, but the do typically have their own branding to evoke whatever mood or style they’re going for. Cosmetics departments have similar features.

So why don’t more electronics companies do the same? Sure, there’s the occasonal XBox or SonyStyle kiosk set up, but in general, there’s just a huge wall of TVs of indiscriminate brands. Like clothing, electronic equiment is more or less the same. It’s all about how you pitch it. In that sense, Apple’s the last company that needs such differentiation, because it’s products are actually different. But walk up to a Sony or Sharp HDTV and it’s pretty damn hard to tell them apart.

It’s possible, I guess, that their research has shown that consumers hate the idea — they’d rather compare two screens right next to each other. Maybe Sony proposed the idea to Best Buy and they said rejected it. But Apple’s success shows that it’s at least possible.

Image by Flickr user mstephens7 used under a Creative Commons license.