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A Modest Proposal: How Best Buy Can Stop Texting and Driving

by Roger Lanctot | Jan 24, 2014

The CEOutlook newsletter recently reported on a promotional campaign via which Best Buy is offering customers coupons for free pairing of their smartphone with the car audio system through Geek Squad Auto Techs.  “If the customer doesn’t have a Bluetooth radio he’s given a 25% off coupon on select Bluetooth car audio products including radio or interface kits,” according to the report (http://tinyurl.com/pb626qw).

The offer is a significant step – if true – and reflects the kind of alignment of the mobile phone and car stereo departments I proposed in a blog nearly three years ago (http://tinyurl.com/ph75p9k). But it does not go far enough.

As a destination retailer, Best Buy is uniquely positioned to tackle automotive aftermarket opportunities. Anyone who has visited a Best Buy recently knows that the car stereo department is isolated in the rear of the store as if it were a high demand category that customers were willing to seek out.

The reality is that car stereos need to be somewhere closer to the front of the store – or the category should be completely removed. It is hopelessly lost in the back of the store.

I argue that the category belongs closer to the front and in proximity to the mobile phones because today mobile phones and car stereos work together.

Even more important and appropriate is the fact that mobile phone and car stereo connectivity needs to be explained and assistance with pairing is a valuable service to offer consumers. Anti-texting and driving laws are rapidly spreading across the U.S. along with laws requiring hands-free technologies for making mobile phone calls while driving.

There seems to be an assumption that consumers universally understand how connecting phones with Bluetooth works and are all complying – but the reality is that this is not happening.

At the same time, both insurance companies and wireless carriers have powerful vested interests in convincing consumers to connect their mobile devices in their cars to ensure that they are used safely. Texting and driving, in particular, is a scourge the carriers would prefer to see terminated before regulators force the implementation of texting and driving blockers.

I propose that Best Buy bring together the wireless carriers, the insurance industry and the aftermarket car stereo companies with the following proposition:

Consumers who participate in usage-based insurance programs with selected insurance companies (using OBDII devices installed by Best Buy) will qualify for insurance discounts (provided the usage-based insurance product detects texting-free driving) that can be monetized via discount coupons for Best Buy purchases or for commercial-free listening on Pandora.

With one campaign Best Buy:

Stimulates interest in the mobile electronics department

Solves the problem of customer Bluetooth pairing

Creates an opportunity for a customer return visit and future purchase at Best Buy

Provides and incentive for and thereby mitigates or ends texting and driving

Simultaneously makes new friends in the US Department of Transportation, the insurance industry, and the wireless industry

And introduces Pandora to even MORE consumers.

How about it Best Buy?

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