Personal view


Watch the big boys


by Ben Smith, Retail Leverage


The next big thing in TVs, the largest category in consumer slectronics, isn’t going to be 3D. So put the dorky glasses down and think about what recent moves by the big boys signify.


The next battleground for hearts, minds and wallets of consumers will be connected/internet TV. Don’t get hung up on the idea that moves by Best Buy and Wal-Mart are solely focused on the consumer demand for the added features that connected TV’s provide.


At Retail Leverage, here’s how we see things playing out:


Short term: the need to address consumers growing desire for streaming video is important. Wal-Mart and Best Buy are gaining access to existing relationships and infrastructures to offer their customers access to their own branded digital video services.


Near term: Best Buy has an opportunity to integrate Tivo capabilities and connectivity into its own Insignia line of televisions and it is not a stretch to think that both it and Wal-Mart could persuade leading television vendors to integrate these services into televisions for sale in their respective stores.


Long term: the bigger picture of these moves is about more closely connecting the retailer to the consumer in their home. In a fragmented media world where it is increasingly difficult to reach consumers via traditional means, Wal-Mart and Best Buy are hard wiring themselves to their consumers.


These new platforms enable a retailer to not only offer the obvious of streaming movies and other digital downloads, but also positions them to take advantage of future advances in connectivity and digital offerings, including ones geared around shopping at home.


The reason I share this article with you is that you don’t have to be selling televisions or set top-boxes to walk away with ideas that you can apply in your own brand/business.


The key question to ask (and answer) is: "How can I advantage a particular retailer versus their competition-


Look at the lengths that Wal-Mart and Best Buy are going to position themselves against each other in the connected TV space. Wal-Mart’s strategy involves acquiring a company (VuDu), and Best Buy’s strategy involves entering into an exclusive relationship (TiVo).


(The real story is the retailers’ fight against each other. Vendors get over the battle you are fighting against other brands.)


Fortunately though, you don’t have to be in a category that is in the cross-hairs of retailer corporate strategy teams to be able to employ the ‘advantage’ strategy.


Simply put, if you want to get the buyer’s attention, bring something to them that strengthens their hand versus their competition.


As assortments narrow and the tentacles of private label expand, brands are being forced to make bigger bets on specific retailers, product lines, and SKUs.


Too often, people wait to make tough decisions until their hand is forced, and sometimes it is too late. While the ‘advantage’ strategy might not be right for you at this time, you can learn a great deal from the exercise.


Good luck!


Ben Smith is Director of Trade Marketing for Eastman Kodak Company and co-founder of Retailer Leverage, an online initiative that is dedicated to sharing and discussing the strategies, programmes, and other best practices designed to give ‘challenger’ brands the ability to shape and influence their fates within the world of retail.