WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — There are plenty of retail banners out there that are successfully connecting and interacting with their best customers while they field a robust multichannel offering. But how many are fielding a multifaceted multichannel offering? Whatever retailers you've placed on that list, Walgreens has got to be the one banner at the tippy-top.
(THE NEWS: Walgreens mobilizes Facebook fan base to drive flu voucher program. For the full story, click here)
There are just so many angles, so many new ways of thinking how business gets done, that can be drawn from this story. For starters, what other venue outside of social media allows you to "share" with 1 million of your best customers in real time? And these aren't passive customers — they all opted in for that connection by very publicly stating how much they "like" the brand.
That's how social media becomes such a powerful enabler. Those retailers embracing a comprehensive social media outreach strategy are finding that they can communicate quickly with their most loyal customers in a relatively inexpensive way. Think about it — how expensive a proposition would it be to reach 1 million impressions through a 30-second spot during primetime network television? How expensive a proposition to reach 1 million impressions on radio? In print? And of those 1 million paid impressions, how many already have intimated that they really like shopping at the advertised location?
Then there's the social stewardship this story represents. Walgreens isn't propositioning a message of, "Hey, come spend some money in our stores!" No. Walgreens instead is saying, "Listen, stick with us and we can accomplish good things together!" All someone has to do is check in. That's it. See what's happening. And in that simple act that can take place on their laptops at work, on their iPads while they take the kids to the playground or on their smartphones during some down time, Walgreens' customers can feel that they've helped someone else realize better health. Because, in a very real way, they just did.
Finally, think about the other underlying message Walgreens is getting out there through a sort of grassroots social media campaign. "You can get your flu shot at Walgreens. Anytime you want." It wasn't too long ago that flu shots had to be scheduled at the retail pharmacy, and those shots could only be administered by nurses participating in a third-party flu clinic hosted at the home store. But today consumers can fit their health care into their own, personal schedule.
"Consumers today, they want a multichannel offering. They want to be able to shop where and how they want to." That's a quote from Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson in his television interview with Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money!" (for that story, click here). He was talking to Cramer about the sway a Walgreens.com or Drugstore.com holds with today's consumer. But the same can be said about health care. Today's consumers want their health care on their schedule. And Walgreens aims to do just that.