Marketing 50

eq-Life

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Two years ago, Mike Marolt watched in frustration as a friend's father struggled to choose among cancer treatments. As senior VP-retail operations for consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co., he also saw an unmet need. He questioned why no retail brand had yet claimed the health and wellness technology space.

Mr. Marolt gathered a team and launched 18 months of consumer research. The result: eq-Life, a concept store opened in February in Minneapolis where shoppers can take yoga class, drink espresso, research breast-cancer treatments at information kiosks, fill prescriptions or even get an herbal clay body peel. The name "eq" is a shortened version of "equilibrium"-bringing balance to our lives.

Technology marketers are flocking to the concept. "This is a distribution channel for a whole new `consultive' type of sale," says Paul Hedtke, senior director of business development at Qualcomms. "It's not something people would find in a RadioShack or even a Best Buy today."

Mr. Marolt, 50, now president of the eq-Life brand, says the store draws more than 4,000 shoppers a week. Best Buy has invested millions to open two more stores this year.

"I think that there is going to be an explosion of digital health products," Mr. Marolt adds.

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