Rick Rommel, Senior VP of Emerging Business at Best Buy, was a guest speaker at the State of Green Business Conference. Best Buy recently started selling alternative transportation solutions such as electric bikes and electric motorcycles made by Brammo.
The question is why. As a company that started by selling stereos, Best Buy is shifting into the green marketplace in response to, among other things, consumer demand. As Rommel pointed out, it is estimated that there are 120,000,000 electric bikes in China, representing 10 percent of the populace of the world’s most populated country. Rommel answered questions at GreenBiz.com’s 2010 State of Green Business Conference about Best Buy’s strategic focus and future goals for this entry into clean electronics. “There’s an appetite to go [toward sustainability],” Rommel says. “Customers want to know how they can save money on electricity. They want to know how they can live more sustainably.” If the solutions are clear, and the solutions are simple enough, customers will buy them, according to Rommel.
Marc Gunther, Senior Contributor to GreenBiz.com, asked Rommel when Best Buy would start carrying products–common in Europe–that control household electronics so that when a homeowner leaves his house, his non-essential electronics automatically turn off. As Gunther pointed out, his TV, among other household electronics, pulls electricity 24/7. Rommel indicated that this “vampire power” has entered the mainstream consciousness enough in the last 5 years so that Best Buy very distinctly has it on their radar. Rommel indicated that, yes, indeed, as demand for these products grow, there is no doubt that Best Buy will look into carrying them.
And why wouldn’t they? If there’s a profitable market for it, why not?
A skeptic, however, might point out that this is a chicken and egg problem. Many consumers only get education on their electronics at, well, the electronics store. If Best Buy were to follow Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and others who have put their sustainability information directly in front of the customer, it would likely go a long way toward reducing our nation’s energy usage. Best Buy isn’t there yet, but consumer demand is pushing it forward on sustainability.
Scott Cooney is co-founder of Green Business Village, incubator for social entrepreneurship, and is covering the State of Green Business Conference in beautiful San Francisco, CA. 3P readers, please check the program for the rest of the day and send questions to Scott [at] GreenBusinessVillage.com.