In a bid to strengthen its positioning as a wellness brand, Walgreens is launching Walk With Walgreens, and will sponsor 5,000 community walking events around the country.
Consumers sign up and then log in their steps on Walgreens' dedicated website, earning rewards from such brands as Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as gym chain Lifetime Fitness and Famous Footwear. Those who participate in live events get a pedometer and logbook; others can download digital tools on its Web site.
"Walgreens' brand purpose is to inspire wellness, and certainly everyone knows there's a pharmacy in the back of the store," Leslie Meredith, executive vice president/account director of Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett that created the program, tells Marketing Daily. "But you could say that about any of its retail pharmacy competitors. This program was created as a way to make that positioning come to life. We're not just saying we stand for wellness in an ad, we're getting out into local communities and proving it."
The program also includes forums, video content, information about charity walks and social-networking features. Meredith says the Deerfield, Ill.-based retailer has spent the last month using its employees as pre-launch ambassadors, helping to organize local events. It is working with such media partners as Dr. Oz, the "Today Show" and "Good Morning America," as well as satellite media tours with Biggest Loser host Ali Sweeney. "But with five million people shopping at a Walgreens every day, instore is obviously our most important marketing effort," Meredith says.
Developing the right rewards system to make the program engaging was also important. "We really grappled with the fact that so many people have done walking workouts before. And walking is so easy -- it's not rocket science, and we wanted to make it interesting. We're just trying to find ways to help people bridge the gap between what they know they should be doing, which is walking more steps into every day, and making it rewarding to actually do it."
Walgreens, both through its pharmacies and its Take Care Clinics, has been intensifying its wellness commitment in recent months, including free screenings, $35 sports checkups for kids, and a $100 million commitment to testing and preventative health care in its communities.