Summer Rerun: Walgreens Rethinks Pharmacy Customer As Healthcare Patient

When I started programming MediaPost’s Pharma and Health Summit in Park City (July 17-20) I came at it from a classic MediaPost perspective – lets map media and marketing against the new, digital-first “patient journey.” But as I spoke with more of the many brands attending, it became clear that something much deeper was going on for them. Like other business segments, Covid brought these brands into much closer contact with their customers, and that sparked much deeper appreciation for the complexity, diversity and attitudes of their base. Much of the first day of the summit will focus on how many brands are not just following the consumer, but are rethinking who that person is, what motivates and inhibits their behaviors and shapes their attitudes towards healthcare.



A prime example is Walgreens, whose VP of Pharmacy Customer Experience, Fauzia Somani I will be interviewing at the Summit. The company played a critical role in vaccinating America during the Covid-19 crisis, and so, suddenly, pharmacy “customers” also became “patients.” And many of those patients, often underserved by the overall healthcare system, came with complex histories and relationships with that system. When we spoke with Walgreens’ Senior Director, Media Strategy & Planning Jennifer Peelle this spring at our Retail Insider Summit, she explained how the company had to leverage data sets and predictive modeling in new ways to reach the underserved and hesitant audiences in very specific places and with precisely targeted messaging. 

In the midst of a massive expansion into broader healthcare services and on-site care, Walgreens will have to talk and target much differently than ever before to a new audience of patients. In anticipation of my fireside chat with Fauzia, I wanted to reprise my interview with Jennie on the lessons of Covid for media strategy. Walgreens needed to personalize at every touchpoint, including predictive modeling that can target and plan media according to unprecedented profile points, like different kinds of vaccination aversion. It is a remarkable tale that involved data reorganization, shifting KPIs away from mere sales goals, and a very real internal cultural shift.

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