Best Buy announced last week that it will pay $800 million to acquire GreatCall, a company that offers health and medical-alert services to 900,000 older Americans. GreatCall offers seniors several products, including portable medical-alert devices and easy-to-use mobile phones, that provide access to urgent-response teams, doctors and nurses, as well as offer reminders to take medications. The acquisition may not seem like a natural fit for a retailer of TVs and computer gear. Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly explained by saying, “Technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population,” and that Best Buy is positioned to help given “our experience with technology and serving customers in their homes.”
Total Retail's Take: Best Buy is thinking outside the box with this acquisition, the sort of approach that has helped the retail chain turn around its business and thrive in the "Age of Amazon." The electronics retailer sees a symmetry between users of its Geek Squad service, often seniors who have difficulty setting up and maintaining home computers and Internet-connected appliances, and GreatCall's customer base. Joly should be credited for Best Buy's resurgence, as he has identified and acted upon market opportunities for the brand to capitalize on. Already having established relationships with its typically older Geek Squad users, Best Buy will likely look to sell those same customers GreatCall services. And that relationship works both ways. Geek Squad can broaden its reach by targeting GreatCall's customer base. Lastly, this may be a way for Best Buy to hold Amazon off from penetrating the healthcare space, an area it has expressed interest in. All in all, a solid move for a resurgent Best Buy.