Can Best Buy have an effective older adult strategy when they can’t sell a TV?

We noted last month that the acquisition of GreatCall by big box retailer Best Buy was the next step in a strategy targeting an older adult market niche, with goods and services promoting digital health and wellness, ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall will be managed as a separate division because, as their CEO admitted, ‘it is a different business’, presumably continuing to do what they do best–direct marketing. Longer term, what GreatCall was purchased for is to enable what they have touted to investors as “Best Buy 2020 that includes Assured Living, a program aimed at using the mobile web, sensors and other digital or smart-home healthcare technology to help adult children or caregivers remotely check in on the health and safety of aging residents at home.” The acquisition is expected to close this fall.  Digital Commerce 360/Internet Health Management  

But will this strategy, which requires a bit of personal service and problem solving, work in the field? The result of a simple search and transaction for a common electronic product wasn’t a promising predictor. This Editor went to a Best Buy in search of a new TV set to replace her aged and fritzing Panasonic (the kind with a cathode ray tube). It was a rainy Saturday night in Paramus NJ, the kind of night on which only Those Determined To Buy brave the traffic to shop. After a sweep of the aisles looking for that senior-oriented healthcare technology, finding none, she hit the TV displays, adjacent to the laundry dryers.

With space measurements and a tape measure in hand, she looked at smaller TVs. Having already determined that a 28″ would likely be best, but with no 28″ on display, she measured 32″ sets which maybe, maybe could fit the TV spot in the wall unit. Smart? Roku? What do these mean, and do I need them? 720 px? 1080 px?  This went on for about 30-40 minutes. In that time, not one blue-shirted salesperson stopped to assist a willing buyer who just needed a little help. So she went in search of one, finding exactly…none. Other shoppers looking at larger sets? Also non-assisted. After a few more sweeps of the aisles, stopping to marvel at an QLED’s resolution, feeling a bit ghostly and ghosted, she tapped out and left, vowing to buy a Samsung online–anywhere other than Best Buy.

If this can happen with a straight-forward electronic product with a relatively willing buyer…what will happen to a more complex sale with a lower level of understanding? Without a better level of customer service, all the corporate strategy talk will simply…flop.

Oh yes, that live link to Assured Living? It goes to a page that says “We’re sorry, something went wrong.” 

Categories: Latest News, Opinion, and Soapbox.


  1. I recently had a Best Buy experience and it was excellent. I did not drive in traffic but instead made an appointment for a free, in home consultation. I very pleasant and knowledgeable young man appeared at my door and listened to my questions. He went over my TV and realized that I was using closed captioning due to my hearing issues. His recommendation was that I need not replace my TV but suggested I buy a ZVOX speaker. We ordered it on line. He showed me how to install it and two days later when it arrived, I installed it and can now watch TV without closed captioning.
    I can assure you I am an elder as the baby boomers are the younger generation to me.
    Best Buy’s in-home consult is definitely a great service for elders.

    John Boden

    • Donna Cusano

      Hi John–perhaps because you’re in Florida and I’m in NJ? I’m glad you had a good experience. See the article above for an update.

    • Donna Cusano

      John–I returned to this article for other reasons a few weeks ago and investigated ZVOX speakers for my brother, who has hearing issues and doesn’t always wear the aids indoors. He has trouble with voices being submerged in the TV signal even with them on, particularly with old movies and TV. ZVOX speakers adjust for this with 6-12 settings to clarify the voices. Found a speaker which is their ‘mini’ to fit on top of the small TV in the kitchen, replacing an ancient computer bar speaker which was beginning to go and only made all the sound louder. It was about a 5 minute setup. It works and he’s delighted. So thank you!!