Walgreens Repositions on Heritage – Trusted Since 1901

Yesterday, the United States largest drug retailer Walgreens announced a new brand positioning and corresponding campaign. The campaign taps into their long heritage dating back to 1901. The retailer history became the foundation of a new, multifaceted brand positioning and identity that launched Sunday and is reflected in the new tagline, Walgreens. Trusted since 1901.

The brand positioning is an effort to emphasize the aspects of Walgreens from the past 116 years that customers truly love. Those attributes – care, trust and accessibility – are the focus of the campaign, which includes new advertising and marketing, and a purpose to champion the health and well-being of every community in America.

It should be interesting to see how the new positioning plays out in store and in their private brand portfolio. Over the last few years both Walgreens has shifted towards a well-designed but ambiguous set of private brands, perhaps this positioning will encourage them to tap into the authenticity of their story and create uniquely Walgreens brands and stories. Millennials are hungry for the authentic and artisanal and the story of Charles Walgreens and his drugstore is a hipster fantasy come true. The two-minute drill, the lunch counter, Myrtle Walgreens cakes and pies and of course the invention of the malted milkshake all created a rich and authentic history on which to build Walgreens and its private brands.

“We went deep into Walgreens history to rediscover what makes Walgreens great,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and president of Walgreens. “It was clear from our research that three strong characteristics define our relationship with our customers, rooted firmly in our history since 1901: care, trust and accessibility. We’ve always cared for our customers’ health and well-being, but how we’ve cared has evolved over time. As consumer behavior continues to change, we will focus on these core attributes to help define the work we do.”

Over the past three years, Walgreens has redefined its offering at every touch point across pharmacy, retail, healthcare services and consumer services, and the brand campaign signals the start of the next phase of its transformation. Walgreens continues to introduce programs and services addressing customers’ needs through a lens of care, trust and accessibility. Some of the more recent examples include high-touch care provided through Walgreens specialized pharmacies focused on disease states such as oncology, hepatitis and HIV; the addition of trained beauty consultants at approximately 3,000 stores; convenient access to FedEx package pickup and drop-off services at 7,500 stores; the simplification of the product assortment in approximately 1,500 stores to make shopping easier and more.

“Trusted since 1901 reinforces the fundamental truth of the work we do: that behind every prescription and purchase is a person, and behind every person is a unique story,” said Adam Holyk, Walgreens senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Since the beginning of our company, we have dedicated ourselves to serving the people of our communities, supporting them through their ups and downs, whenever they need us. Straightforward, authentic, warm and reliable, we’re here to help everyone – every day. Beyond a new tagline, we hope to reflect where our brand is headed in the future with new initiatives and services that align to our brand promise: to always to be here to help you feel good.”

the company is releasing a series of digital vignettes called “Care Stories,” which feature real employees and Walgreens customers. The videos are a snapshot of how Walgreens continues to provide care to its patients.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.