Best Buy Profiles Customers

Best Buy drills its salespeople to size up incoming customers, label based on type, and sell accordingly. This news is two years old but is new to us. Here’s the breakdown:

    Angels – Buy new, marked up products, without waiting for markdowns.
    Devils – Use rebates, stock up on loss-leaders and flip on eBay, use unfair internet knowledge to exploit BB’s lowest-price guarantee.
    Barrys – Upper-income and family men. Sell them action movies and cameras.
    Jills – Cluless suburban women. Short on time but you can hook ’em if you talk about how good a product will be for “the family.”
    Buzzes – Early adopters, buyers and showoffers of the latest gadgets.

What’s the secret category for people who never buy anything from Best Buy, preferring to mock it from afar? — BEN POPKEN

Analyzing Customers, Best Buy Decides Not All Are Welcome [WSJ] (free link!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    “Devils” apply for rebates and do product pricing research on the internet?!?!?

    Those BASTARDS!!! Why, they really ARE like Satan!

  2. Falconfire says:

    Yeah I knew about this from a co-worker who moonlights at the Evil B. They go so far as to label all internet users as “Devils” and to steer away from them. They also have a name for teens with too much money as well.

    When me and another co-worker where going through black friday ads from here, he actually went ballistic on us saying that what we where doing was criminal and that he could report us to his bosses at BB and have us arrested… as if…

  3. d0x says:

    I wonder what im classified as at best buy? Im an early adopter who uses the internet for price checking and features but i always buy retail cause for big ticket items its just easier.

    I dont want extended service plans…and I dont buy anything from Best Buy except DVD’s and Video games!

    If they were smart I would be labeled “The guy we want shopping here so lets do something about our store to attract him and get him to spend his money here Angel 666”

  4. Kornkob says:

    So– where’s the counter-article explaining how to size up and label sales people (broad spectrum– not just BB) so you can target your negotiations?

  5. Joe_Bagadonuts says:

    “Unfair internet knowledge?” Unfair to who? Certainly not me when I walk into the store knowledgeable on the item I wish to purchase.

  6. Falconfire says:

    Unfair to who? Certainly not me when I walk into the store knowledgeable on the item I wish to purchase.

    No its only unfair to them cause they cant sell you that poorly rated 60 incher for gobs more than its worth. You know… unfair to the overpaid rich white guys with blow addictions and a few girlfriends on the side.

  7. bluegus32 says:

    Falconfire: “unfair to the overpaid rich white guys with blow addictions and a few girlfriends on the side.”

    As an overpaid rich white guy with a blow addiction and a few girlfriends on the side, I am offended. How dare you?

    Seriously, though. What interests me about the recent articles about Best Buy is not that they brand us or have some sort of carefully planned out strategies to trick us. What interests me is HOW they do it. It’s an incredible insight into human psychology.

    Honestly, as long as they’re not violating any laws, I rather applaud the effort. They’re perfecting a skill. I’m impressed. I always say if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your abilities. That’s what BB is doing.

    I still have so much to learn. Teach me Best Buy. Teach me.

  8. Demingite says:

    Methinks Best Buy — the AOL of electronics — hath created its own “economic havoc” (per the article) with things like

    loss leaders
    lowest-price guarantees

    (Not to mention extended service plans…selling/upselling quotas for employees…)

    These are things that manipulate consumers. As such, they invite counter-manipulation.

    Best Buy’s business model is thoroughly lousy.

    Term for people who avoid Best Buy altogether, like the plague: Wise.

  9. juri squared says:

    I agree with Demingite. Their practices have brought “devils” onto themselves. I am really rather annoyed that they label researching prices as unfair. How dare consumers educate themselves!

    Maybe I’m crazy, but wouldn’t the best strategy be to treat customers as actual human beings? Maybe they wouldn’t sell as much up front, but they’d sure build repeat business – something they’re not terribly good at right now.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    This reminds me a little of how domestic auto makers have been finding themselves with too many customers waiting until the end of the model year to purchase at discount prices.

    I’m also wondering how accurate Best Buy’s assessments of their customers can be. I suspect there’s a much larger pool of people like myself, who never buy DVDs or games there because Amazon’s cheaper, but might go in for either a quick purchase (a cable or plug or any other item that can’t wait) or something that needs trying out, like a camera. Except we don’t buy cameras more than once every five years at the most, and even less often buy large items like TVs. Come to think of it, that would make BB more like furniture stores or bridal shops–trying to wring as much profit as possible out of occasional customers.

  11. ChazB says:

    Q: What’s the secret category for people who never buy anything from Best Buy, preferring to mock it from afar?

    A: Smart Consumer?

    Really though, this is nothing new. There are sales people at all levels, in all industries, no matter the size of the store do this. I’m just not 100% sure that most companies actually make it part of their training materials.

    Personally, I’m a devil and when i was in sales I respected people that knew how to do their research and how to haggle/get a better deal. They are the ones that are most likely to generate repeat business and referrals if you treat them well.

  12. mitel_fan says:

    If you think that the in store profiling is interesting, the online version is even better. I was a project manager on the BB e-commerce web development team and they have one of the most sophisticated tools for managing upsell, cross-sell and promotions in retailing. They even have a screen on the front-end that disincents low-value customers (e.g., browsers who never buy, only buy sale items, frequent returns). They apply some lifetime customer value analytics to determine a score for returning customers and have determined that some customers are better served by being sent to another retailer.

  13. Jesse in Japan says:

    I love the bash Best Buy as much as the next guy, but I think you took that “unfair internet knowledge” thing out of context “unfairly.” The WSJ article describes devils as follows:

    The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts. They load up on “loss leaders,” severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge.

  14. Chairman-Meow says:

    Imagine that, they don’t like me because I won’t buy their AV cables that just so happen to be marked up 400% or more.

    Best Buy has now given me yet another reason for despising them more. No wonder why I buy most of my stuff on

  15. RandomHookup says:

    And now Best Buy has eliminated rebates and is seldom visited any of the Fat Wallet crowd anymore.

  16. orielbean says:

    Again and again, the brick and mortar retailers should be used for their showrooms only. Never buy something there if you can help it, just look at the thing, hold it in your hands, then write down the model number and go on the web.

    The interweb is far more effective at selling you things, when you know exactly what you want. Just make sure the seller has a reputable return policy and a decent reputation, and you can’t go wrong. Even for the occasional item gone wrong or damaged in shipping, I STILL consider it far better than the usual 100% + markup pricing at all the big box stores.

    However, I can certainly understand why the store would be angry at web quotes for non B&M stores as a lowest price. You can’t undercut a web seller who ships almost direct from the manufacturer in China – Best Buy has a whole supply chain to feed and send to college.

  17. d0x says:

    “Imagine that, they don’t like me because I won’t buy their AV cables that just so happen to be marked up 400% or more.”

    You mean cables like HDMI which they sell for $100+ for 4 feet that you can get online for $10?

    Funny thing about that is they will try to convince you that you need monster HDMI cables for superior picture. Well thats BS right there since its a digital signal the picture is either there or not. There is no superior cable because digital doesnt accept interference like analog (component, composite etc) does…and even those are really prone to issues unless your cable is 50+ feet!

  18. Demingite hit the nail on the head I think. If you don’t want your customers to play games with you, then don’t play games with them.

    I’m also with etinterrapax… I’ve not set foot in a Best Buy to get anything since discovering Amazon. It’s a lot cheaper, and the selection is far far far far better.

  19. acambras says:

    Yeah, I don’t shop at Best Buy. This whole profiling thing seems like just another good reason to add to the list.

  20. Uurp says:

    I’m a Buzz and also a Barry, but my local Best Buy is one of the first Jill-branded test stores. When I use the restroom at the store I don’t know whether to stand up or sit down.

  21. What’s the secret category for people who never buy anything from Best Buy, preferring to mock it from afar?

    I think the term is “losers”

  22. November 8, 2004 ??? Old article.

  23. SexCpotatoes says:

    “This news is two years old but is new to us. “

    Yeah, AngrySicilian, that’s what that sentence in the post means.

  24. Gotcha.. missed that part.

  25. mike says:

    What about me? I open-carry a 9-mil wherever I go.