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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?



Random Sampling: Our Weekly Roundup of Ideas to Grow By

SurroundedWe’re always following companies and looking for interesting approaches to market growth and building brands. Every Friday we pick our recent favorites to share with you.

Will Joe Fresh’s ‘store-within-a-store’ concept be JC Penney’s savior…and perhaps, a smart model for the future of retail?  We’re excited to see what happens: Can Joe Fresh Save JC Penney and Retail? 

A great example of how to engage your target consumer.  Get them involved:  Urban Outfitters, Converse Launch Vine Promotion

Why ‘just asking them’ won’t do and observing your shoppers is key: Give Shoppers What They Don’t Know They Want 

Growth opportunity research in action: Treasury Ripe For Slim Pickings in US Wine Market


You Understand Your Product or Service…But Do Consumers, Really?

Confusing-Doritos-BagI’m not sure what Doritos was trying to convey with this particular packaging.  I have to admit I was pretty confused (and a bit scared).

But it’s a perfect example of what I like to call “Consumer Huh.”  In other words, messaging, labeling, packaging, etc. that causes consumers to scratch their heads and move onto something else because they have no idea what you are trying to sell them.

I believe it’s human nature to assume that if we understand something, then other people must too, right?  Well you know the old saying about when we assume.  And as marketers, in order to grow our businesses, we need to throw assumptions out the window and really make sure consumers are on the same page with us.

I have to applaud the meat industry for their recent decision to relabel hundreds of their products to better serve consumers.  This move really captures some of the key points we tout for successful growth.

Here’s what they’re doing and why we think it’s smart:

  1. Changing names like “Pork Butt” to “Boston Roast.” (making it easier/less confusing for consumers)
  2. Offering preparation/usage tips (facilitating usage generally and stimulating ideas for new usage occasions)
  3. Making this change just in time for grilling season (being in the right place at the right time)

Any successful relationship requires good communication (again, not assumptions) — even with consumers.  Maybe it’s time to evaluate your relationship with them, do some digging, find out what they’re thinking and most importantly…confirm it’s consistent with what you want them to understand about your product or service.

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