What Retailers Can Learn From Walgreens and CVS

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Whether through retail technology or old school techniques, “communication” methods are top of mind for retailers today as they double-down on personalization efforts. How retailers choose to communicate with shoppers is a core tenet of any personalization strategy.

Walgreens and CVS are two top retailers that want to be better communicators: Walgreens through the lens of digital and using technology to empathize with shoppers, and CVS through an overhaul of its in-store communication mechanisms.

Top executives from both chains spoke at the Path to Purchase Expo (P2PX) in Chicago, sharing specific strategies on how they’re getting more personal with how they talk to shoppers. Marcy Brewington, director of in-store marketing strategy, CVS Health, announced a “full redesign” of its in-store signage for each of its 9,000 stores to begin early next year. Brewington told a standing-room-only crowd that the refresh will roll out slowly throughout the year, planogram by planogram, and be completed by the end of 2020.

Alyssa Raine, divisional vice president, brand marketing and creative, Walgreens, emphasized a need for empathy from retailers during her session. She said the healthcare system is becoming more transactional and impersonal. Raines shared an example of how the retailer created 400 different digital videos for flu shot season, each tailored around a different shopper motivation and seasonal context. Videos looked at who the shopper was (personalizing messaging to a caregiver versus a shopper just looking to save money), the season (early in the season or perhaps if there was a local outbreak) and factored in different motivations and calls to action. Raines also cited improvements in the Walgreens mobile app, which leverages gamification such as loyalty points earned based on meeting healthy goals like how many steps taken in a day.

Walgreens also leveraged its digital platform to help cancer patients across their entire journey, from the first visit to the doctor to when they’re browsing for content on the web, to how they shop Walgreens and use the pharmacy, to how the store follows up with how the patient is doing.

This is a prime example of how a retailer can created a bond with a consumer that is based less on customer lifetime value and more on improving a customer’s life.

While Brewington at CVS joked she was “going old school” discussing signage, the motivation is the same: “How do we enhance the shopper experience?” Studies done of the store showed that shoppers were overwhelmed with signage and missing the relevant messaging they needed. New messaging will focus on enabling shoppers to find what they need quicker. Messaging will be driven by these key tenets: entice, announce, navigate, inspire, convert and embrace. The in-store messaging will be integrated into pre-shop messaging like emails and digital.

Whether retailers choose to communicate with shoppers through next-gen digital methods or “old school” signage, the goals are still the same: personalize the message and make life easier for your shoppers.

Click here for the full recap of these sessions “Walgreens and CVS detail new initiatives at P2PX,” from RIS’ sister publication Retail Leader.

Want more P2P? Path to Purchase Institute members have access to more than 1,800 articles and a library of 14,000 marketing and merchandising images along with detailed retailer profiles detailing operations and strategies. Visit p2pi.org for more information


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