With the acquisition of GreatCall, a mature player in the aging-tech space, Best Buy is doubling down on consumer health technology@retail.

This week at Best Buy. the electronics retailer,  it’s out with CDs and in with technology for aging at home. The company announced that it would buy GreatCall for $800 million.

A snippet from the announcement from Best Buy’s press release is shown in the first diagram, noting that GreatCall’s membership is approaching 1 million subscribers who use mobile phones and connected devices, “providing peace of mind to their loved ones.”

Beyond the obvious “falling and I can’t get up” pronouncements via media coverage in USA Today and other mass news outlets, Best Buy’s purchase of GreatCall signals the electronics chain’s commitment to be a relevant player in retail health — in this case, to address the needs of people who want to age safely and well at home through the Jitterbug phone and Lively wearable devices.

Best Buy has survived a phase in retail where competitors, like Circuit City, Radio Shack, and HH Gregg  have failed. Even with Amazon-everything, and in health/care, too, Best Buy has successfully navigated the rough retail waters to get to this point. Throughout the past decade, in fact, Best Buy has been a major channel for wearable health devices competing with Amazon, Target and Walmart, among other stores both bricks-and-mortar and ecommerce.

With GreatCall, Best Buy consolidates a role at the convergence of Internet of Healthy Things (thank you, Dr. Joe Kvedar), smart and connected homes, wearable tech, and self-care.

The company’s corporate vision, Best Buy 2020: Building the New Blue, identified the aging population as a growth market of 50 million Americans 65 years of age and older, expanding over 50% over the next two decades.

“We have a great opportunity to serve the needs of these customers by combining GreatCall’s expertise with Best Buy’s unique merchandising, marketing, sales and services capabilities,” CEO Hubert Joly was quoted in the press release on the deal.

Interestingly, Best Buy was GreatCall’s first retail partner, a relationship struck up ten years ago.

“Feel safe, connected, and confident,” Best Buy’s online site focusing on healthy aging communicates on the launch page for aging tech featuring links to GreatCall products and others. From here, consumers can explore health and wellness wearables, hearables, and other connected devices explicitly targeting an older, empowered consumer and caregiver. Note the AARP link-up at the bottom of that page, further branding the value proposition for people over 50 — AARP’s target market.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Best Buy ranks top of the list of top 100 consumer electronics retailers as tallied by TWICE, a leading publication on the consumer electronics industry who partners with CTA (the Consumer Technology Association, operator of the annual CES conference).

We’ve observed and covered the go-go growth of digital health devices, smart homes, and aging tech at CES over the past decade. With the comings-and-goings, rises-and-failings of both suppliers and retailers, two personae have persisted over the years: Best Buy and aging consumers and their caregivers.

While Amazon, Walmart, Apple, et. al., will continue to grow in healthcare, it’s exciting to see Best Buy making a bet in this way. We’ve seen Danone do the same in Big Food for health and nutrition, and Philips focusing on digital health, too. I place Best Buy in this ecosystem of companies who are serious about doing well and doing good for health citizens. Of course, we continue to watch and advise this space, always with the objective of helping make healthcare better for consumers who make health where they live, work, play, pray, learn…and shop.

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