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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
November 30, 2005
They Came for Plasma TVs, Not Pastels

As a part of a mutual gratification pact between Mrs. Krause and me, she rarely takes me along on her shopping trips, so I’m not entirely sure what she looks for in a satisfying shopping experience.


But I’m pretty sure it’s not pastel walls. Best Buy, however, is banking on the hope that Mrs. Krause is not a typical female. (She is leading in the football picks this year, but I digress . . . )


In 60 newly refurbished stores, Best Buy is trying to attract more female shoppers by replacing its familiar dark blue and yellow color scheme with pastel colors.


Of course! Make them feel like they’re at a baby shower! Maybe they could serve cake and finger sandwiches too.


Not only that, but Best Buy is trying to cater to females by offering them “personal shopping advisors,” who lead them around the store and avoid speaking in technical jargon.


If there’s one thing I would think women don’t need an advisor for, it’s how to shop. But Best Buy seems to think they are susceptible to confusion with talk of rocket science concepts like “megapixels” on digital cameras. So instead, they keep it simple for them.


Are you a soccer mom? Do you want to take pictures of soccer children? Press this button, ma’am.


New Jersey-area Villagers Hardware outlets are trying this as well – having associates basically shadow female shoppers from the moment they show up until it’s time to load their cars. (Women like geeky men following them around? When did this start?)


Computer-maker X2 is trying to pander – I mean reach out – to females by making pink laptops. I don’t know if this will work, but I’m pretty sure not many will be stolen.


This trend is troubling on a number of levels, not least of which concerns the fact that the laptop on which I am typing this column was purchased at Best Buy. If I need service on it, I do not want to show up and find those 100-inch flat screen TVs showing Oprah, Desperate Housewives and some Lifetime movie about Valerie Bertinelli being sad.


More to the point, is this what retailers think of female shoppers? I get that men and women are different. I get that your experience while you’re in the store affects your willingness to come back. But not as much as your satisfaction with what you took out of the store – and what you paid for it.


My mother-in-law wouldn’t care if a store’s interior was pastels or dried pasta – but if there’s an item marked down two cents, you’d better not be standing between it and her.


Ah, but marketing people need to overthink these things, and it didn’t start with Best Buy. In reporting this story, Business Week noted that car companies in the 1950s used to try to lure female buyers by offering matching handbags.


Mrs. Krause has rarely shared with me the emotional feelings she experienced while visiting fine retail establishments, but perhaps these things are best left unshared between men and women. Besides, if I walk into Best Buy and it’s covered in pastels, there’s a decent chance I won’t even notice.


As long as they're showing sports on those big TVs.


© 2005 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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