Best Buy suddenly remembers women shop for electronics

Woman shopping at Best BuyBest Buy is reverting to an old favorite to try and grow sales after a pretty weak earnings report -- appeal to women shoppers.

Forgive me if I seem cynical, but we've heard this before. More than once.
Why do retailers like Best Buy make it seem like this is a new idea or initiative? Because we've got a short institutional memory and reaching a new, large and lucrative demographic is like picking low hanging fruit. Journalists new to covering the company report the news, everyone gets to feel like there's a plan in place, and that maybe it will generate tangible results.

If that were true, Best Buy (and Circuit City before it) would have figured out how to sell hard goods to women a long time ago. I was involved in some of the initial demographic research nearly seven years ago, and Best Buy was one of the first to really take the female market seriously, at least among electronics retailers.

It was even considered a real leader in its initiatives to understand and market to female shoppers. Stores were tailored to the demographic, more female employees hired, product assortment tinkered with -- whole new stores were even opened to test new design and marketing principals that better related to women.

Today, much of that effort has been abandoned in favor of something Best Buy calls "Women's Leadership Forums," or WOLF. Comprised of women, these groups -- or WOLF packs -- serve as think tanks, offering up ideas the company can then act on, such as redesigning appliance departments to look like kitchens, or allowing women to donate points in Best Buy's loyalty program to local schools, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn tells the Wall Street Journal.

I've heard that from Dunn before, and from his predecessor Brad Anderson, and from his predecessor Richard Schulze. Women represent half the population and are responsible for more than their share of electronics purchases, making buying decisions for the home. If after years of talking about it, if Best Buy ever figures out how to actually win this market, it really will pay off.
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