Having been around for over 100 years with more than 18,500 stores in 11 countries, it’s no easy feat trying to figure out what consumers want and need at Walgreens. But that’s part of Vineet Mehra’s job, who took the reins as global chief marketing officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) earlier this year, after serving as the global CMO at Ancestry.com.
Mehra knows how marketing and advertising “can be powerful agents of change,” which is why he’s steering the WBA to be a customer-centric company.
Hear more from Mehra at this year’s Brandweek in Palm Springs, Calif. from Nov. 3-6.
The following has been edited for clarity and length.
How do you navigate Walgreens’ marketing and advertising in the age of rapid consumer feedback that can be both good and bad?
Mehra: As marketers, we have a tremendous responsibility to our consumers. Marketing and advertising can be powerful agents of change, with the ability to shape cultural perceptions and move people to action, so we must manage it carefully. At Walgreens Boots Alliance, we have the privilege of working at the intersection of healthcare, beauty and retail, and therefore our content needs to be deeply personal and relevant. That’s why we approach everything from a personalized, customer-obsessed lens to ensure we deliver extraordinary experiences that enrich our customers’ lives.
What’s the biggest buzzword in the industry today and how is WBA preparing for it?
It’s all about data and the digital disruption that is completely transforming how we interact with consumers. Because of this, marketers need to be able to think in terms of creative, data, and technology—all at the same time. So, we are investing in technology and in our talent to build digital and analytical skills. But it’s important not to lose sight of the importance of the human touch and the personalization required to meet each consumer’s unique needs.
Name one important thing about Walgreens that you wish more consumers knew?
That we’re a healthcare company. And when you work in healthcare, there’s no more personal category that that. That’s why we’re on a mission to democratize healthcare by being more human, more personal, and treating each customer and patient as a complete, unique individual.
What are some of the early lessons or challenges Walgreens is learning about opening primary care offices in some stores?
Primary care, for seniors in particular, is an area where we believe there is opportunity for greater care coordination with our pharmacists, and where patients can benefit from more convenient access. Since launching this initiative last year, the doctors and pharmacists in-store are working very well together, and patient response has been promising. It’s been so successful that we’ve formed new partnerships and expanded these primary care centers to other locations, with more opening before the end of this year and next year.