For those who made the journey to Thurrock , this was most definitely a big box: very big indeed.
On Friday, after months of waiting, Best Buy was finally a reality in the UK and for thousands of people this meant only one thing: £179.99 for a branded HD television.
So confident were the powers that be at Best Buy about the power of their promotion that they had put a queuing system in place ready to marshal the early birds: everything ready for the off at 7.00AM on a retail park in Thurrock.
And remarkably, by 09.30, they were still queuing, being let in by smiling security a few at a time.
You could have shown them anything frankly and if there hadn’t been pallet loads of tellies on hand there would probably have been a near riot. As it was, burly, mostly shaven-headed men were in the car park loading their trophies into mostly commercial vehicles. Essex punks and pensioners danced in the street: Best Buy had landed.
The real question you have to ask is how the virtually unknown US retailer managed to orchestrate crowds of this size and get the message across about what a big deal this would be for shoppers. Turns out that Best Buy was slick not just in its choice of a market-busting price for a telly, but also in the methods it chose to disseminate the message.
As mentioned in this column last week, field marketers were doing their stuff in towns around the M25 prior to Friday’s opening and on the day in question, Best Buy had taken a wraparound front page to the day’s Metro freesheet rag. This told almost anyone willing to hear in London firstly that Best Buy had cheap TVs and secondly that it was now open.
For those who made the journey to Thurrock, this was most definitely a big box: very big indeed. Contrary to most others however, it was a big box that you could see across, one where mid-shop equipment heights had been kept low and overhead navigational signage was certainly there, but not at overwhelming levels. And interestingly, the departmental segmentation was sufficiently well done to make the space feel not just manageable, but actually quite pleasant, even given the numbers of people in the store.
Hats off then, to Best Buy for creating a genuine feeling of excitement to which people responded. The response from nearby Currys was certainly there too, with a banner announcing “Price Crash” across the front of the store, but on the first day of trading, it looked a little like Gordon Brown may do on Friday, tired and possibly world weary. It will fight back, but Best Buy hit the ground running very fast indeed.