Best Buy Seeks Magic

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. is turning to Magic Johnson Enterprises in hopes of strengthening its urban market presence. The two companies have entered into a multiyear agreement. Best Buy won’t be the first company to seek out MJE to assist in getting increased multicultural consumer traffic. In fact, MJE has worked with such companies as Aetna, Starbucks, Burger King, NASCAR, T.G.I. Fridays, and 24 Hour Fitness.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Best Buy is opening more stores in highly populated, racially, and ethnically diverse locations. The company will specifically look to MJE to help grow the business by better understanding the needs of local communities and how to connect with them more effectively, says Herschel Herndon, Best Buy’s vice president of multicultural relations. The retailer also hopes MJE can help enhance management’s “ability to create jobs, train, retain, and develop employees and to create value in communities by developing local business partnerships and supporting urban development which helps everyone,” Herndon says.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, MJE’s chairman and CEO, says the company has been working with Best Buy in another capacity for many years. “Along with Best Buy leadership and current store managers, we’re going to look at a range of ways to better serve the multicultural consumer who is already a great customer of Best Buy. We love electronics. We love to have the latest and greatest DVDs and CDs. So, this is about how we can grow the physical presence of Best Buy in the urban community,” he says.

Best Buy has reason to assume MJE can deliver. According to a recent poll conducted by consumer research company, Yankelovich, roughly 57% of the African Americans and Hispanics polled in 16 states that represent MJE’s business markets indicated that they are more likely to purchase from businesses associated with Magic Johnson.

While these findings may “reflect back to the respect African Americans have for Johnson’s basketball career and the challenges he has faced, but yet endured,” says Robert Cunningham, president of Columbus, Ohio-based Reach the Target Consulting, it also reflects the successful decisions Johnson made about with which companies to partner with. “Magic has selected those businesses that are affordable and are within the reach of the day-to-day consumer,” Cunningham says.

“One of the other things we learned in this study is that people like the fact that I’ve created jobs in the community, through my businesses, and they know that when I bring a business to the community, the track record is that other businesses follow,” says Johnson, adding that his businesses have a solid local presence–85 cities in 21 states.

Herndon says “the beauty of this new relationship with Magic Johnson Enterprises is that it isn’t just about marketing or about advertising. It allows us a chance to learn together, collect the different perspectives to co-create something that is beneficial for everyone.”