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Building an Authentic Relationship With Customers (Way to Go, Walgreens)

Walgreens is making a bold move with their “Steps with Balance Rewards” initiative.  Especially, since many other organizations — namely, employers and insurance companies — have struggled to implement programs that promote good health.

Historically, there have been privacy concerns.  Understandably, consumers want to protect personal or more sensitive information about their health.  In addition, many fear that revealing their health practices will come back to haunt them (e.g., imposed, undesirable insurance-related changes).

However, could a wellness program be successful if positioned by a less intimidating source — your friendly drug store “at the corner of happy and healthy”?

Full disclosure — I used to frequent a Walgreens’ competitor. But when I received this email from Walgreens and looked at the Balance Rewards program (earn points toward in-store purchases for every “healthy move”), I was more than intrigued.  I was totally game.

Walgreens Balance Rewards Email

The thing is, I love tracking my steps.  Ever since I got my Fitbit,  I’ve been hooked.  So when I saw I could add my device to earn points –and since I was already trying to hit 10,000 steps a day – it was an easy add-on.

What Walgreens is doing for their customers and community reminds me of a recent talk I heard at the Marketing to Women conference in Chicago, this past April. Bob Garfield and Doug Levy spoke about the importance of customer connections to drive results (also the subject of their book, Can’t Buy Me Like).

Specifically, they cited the evolution of marketing  which is no longer a product era or even a customer era, but rather a relationship era.  So companies need to evolve and understand that customers want them to truly care about something bigger than the product they sell.  They want them to demonstrate beliefs and values similar to their own.  

Those are the companies that are successful today (and many of them aren’t spending tons on advertising either).  And they’re walking the walk, so to speak.  Because in this age of social media, if a company fakes it, they’ll surely get ‘called out’ to the masses– on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Unlike their competition, where with every receipt you have an endless stream of coupons attached (that requires saving and remembering to bring for your next purchase), Walgreens has developed a program that is easy for customers to implement and keeps their brand top-of mind when they see their points adding up, daily.

They have really put together a program that connects with their customers — making wellness a priority and rewarding them for healthy behaviors.

So, learning from Garfield/Levy and Walgreens, what are you doing to create long-term relationships with your customers that are genuine and fit with their beliefs and values?



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