Lively, formerly known as GreatCall, is gaining significant display space in at least some Best Buy stores. An analyst from Wave7 Research observed in early August that Lively took over a majority of the store's main prepaid display space at a Kansas Best Buy. Wave7 Research is currently investigating whether this is a broad based rollout or something localized to select markets. A source has told Wave7 Research that this strongly increased presence for Lively at Best Buy is something that will happen broadly.
Lively is owned by Best Buy. The retail giant bought the wireless brand back in August of 2018 for $800 million. It was a steep price to pay at the time for a brand with just over 900,000 subscribers. Since the acquisition, Best Buy has not publicly updated Lively's subscriber count.
The prepaid and MVNO display space at Best Buy has been shrinking over the last several years. In early 2019, Boost Mobile and its now retired sister brand, Virgin Mobile, were both pulled out of the store. Later in 2019, Consumer Cellular exited the store only one year after first appearing there. And in the fall of 2020, both Cricket Wireless and AT&T Prepaid exited the retail chain. Best Buy is now repurposing some of that space to push its own house brand. In some locations, much of the display space left behind by AT&T Prepaid and Cricket had been left empty for months.
In the first quarter of 2020, Best Buy did increase the retail footprint of its wireless brand by adding two aisle endcap displays dedicated to Lively (GreatCall) products. One endcap was dedicated to Lively phones and the other wearables. In the stores with an updated layout, it appears that Best Buy has reduced its Lively end cap count to one. Wave7 Research observed in a Kansas Best Buy that the sole end cap featured a Lively promotional video with brochures.
Rebranding With New Commercials, Updated Plans
The rebranding of GreatCall to Lively happened in May of 2021. Since then, Best Buy has made several other changes to the brand and not just to its retail footprint. A commercial was launched, shown below, with the new branding, detailing of the service, and touting a Lively smartphone with an offer of 25% off the device. Two other ads are also currently airing with Lively branding, although the 25% off offer has since expired.
The MVNO's website was also updated and plans and prices were generally improved with higher data allotments for the money and cheaper pricing.
Lively touts itself as "a leader in connected health for active aging, with health and safety solutions for older adults." It is a highly targeted MVNO that offers wireless plans for older Americans who may have the need for rapid medical help. It also allows their caretakers to help keep an eye on their loved ones.
“Best Buy spent $800 million on Lively. The company is doing a lot to try to make that huge investment pay off, including huge display space at Best Buy, strong TV ad spending, and a recent rebranding effort.” --Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research