Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Walgreens Is Positioning Itself as a One-Stop Shop

Sept 8, 2009

Walgreens is introducing a campaign with a new slogan, "There’s a way,” today (Tuesday). The effort—by agencies Downtown Partners, Chicago; Digitas and Arc Worldwide—seeks to position the drugstore chain as a one-stop shopping destination and healthcare provider for consumers. Walgreens CMO Kim Feil (pictured left) said the campaign stemmed from consumer research, which found that many shoppers see the drugstore as a community resource, but yet, the company wasn’t communicating as such. In the past, Walgreens was much more focused on marketing all of its businesses separately, Feil told Brandweek in a recent interview. The drugstore chain is moving toward its new messaging with a TV spot, breaking today, which centers on the importance of flu shots, especially in the wake of heightened concern over the H1N1 virus. Walgreens, which spent $174 million on advertising last year, excluding online, per Nielsen, said the ad is one of many to come. Future efforts will also incorporate the tagline, “There’s a way,” to show how Walgreens can be a resource in consumers’ lives. Below are excerpts from a conversation with Feil, who discussed some of these changes.

Brandweek: Walgreens’ latest campaign talks about how the company is relevant to different facets of consumers’ lives. How did you come up with the idea for this?
Kim Feil: Over the last several years, Walgreens has been doing a lot of deep studies to understand who our consumers are to make sure our services and messages are relevant and apply to the 5.3 million customers we’re serving every single day in our stores. On October 1, we have our 7,000th store opening. We are literally in everyone’s neighborhood. But we know if we want to serve them well, we need to make sure we understand not just who those 5.3 million consumers are, but who our neighbors are.

BW: And some of these findings?
KF: What we learned from our consumers was they really enjoyed [the fact that] we are there for them in their neighborhoods. That was the primary reason they saw us as being important in their lives—[that is], we are truly accessible healthcare. If their baby has an earache or headache in the middle of the night, we are there for them. It’s a very personal or intimate moment.

BW: How did these insights find their way into the campaign?
KF: The reason why those things are important is, as we study them, we get a clear insight into what our consumers want Walgreens to be, which is a resource to them, whether it’s helping them do easy things like grabbing a gallon of milk on a Sunday morning to make breakfast, or something as complicated as [assisting] a newly diagnosed diabetic. This all led to the development of our new communication program, which is truly a…new slogan for the Walgreens brand: “Walgreens: There’s a way.” “There’s a way” is intended to show consumers, customers and patients that Walgreens will help them make informed choices.

There’s a way will always be a pointer to a whole range of ways Walgreens helps our customers, patients and consumers everyday. This first spot that [launches today] reflects how Walgreens is able to provide consumers with affordable, community-based healthcare through the form of flu shots, which helps them to find a way to stay well. We made sure we were able to offer a very attractive and affordable price point so that more customers will take the step early this year to protect themselves. We’re making it as easy as possible by guaranteeing that between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day, in every store, consumers can walk in Walgreens and get a flu shot without an appointment. That’s a big deal because Walgreens has 16,000 pharmacy healthcare certified immunizers. We have the largest certified immunizer workforce in America. The next largest is 4,000.

BW: How big of a campaign is this for Walgreens?
KF: This is the very first time we’ve done a campaign like this across our entire company. [Campaign spans TV, print, online, social media and out of home ads.] It’s the first time we’ve had an integrated program, which is a sign of the commitment we’re making to really focus on our campaign’s message.

BW: How is this different from Walgreens’ positioning in the past?
KF: The best thing a good brand leader can do is really define, “What is the core value proposition of our brand?” We used to market all of our businesses as separate businesses, but what we really wanted to communicate is we are a comprehensive destination for pharmacy health care and a community-based services company…I hope consumers begin to understand that Walgreens isn’t just a store—[we’ve got] the e-commerce site, they can access their services through the Web, in our clinics, in our employer work sites and in a lot of different places. We want to elevate the brand beyond the walls, and really focus on it as a brand that meets consumers where they are.

BW: Do you see this as a quantum leap for the Walgreens brand or a logical progression?
KF: Do I think that this is a big step? Yes. Is it different than what Walgreens has been doing? No. What it is is trying to understand what our core value proposition is and how do we communicate that in a clearer way that is more relevant to consumers today. The first thing we did was go and talk to the customer and be patient with the consumers: “What do they think we do? What do they want? What do they need? Why do they come to us?” Consumers see us as a resource in their neighborhoods, but we weren’t really talking to them and communicating it in our advertising and marketing and promoting it the way we are with this [campaign] and others that are going to come. I don’t think it’s a dramatically different thing. It’s the first time we’re truly saying what we stand for and what we’ve been doing, but we’re saying that in a more direct way.