Director of Digital Marketing and Emerging Media
Rich Lesperance leads the Digital Marketing and Emerging Media group at retailer Walgreens. He spoke with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin about millennials’ dynamic shopping habits and how Walgreens is accommodating them.
eMarketer: Why are millennials important to Walgreens and what are you doing in-store, online and via mobile to drive 18- to 34-year-olds into the stores and keep them coming back?
Rich Lesperance: It’s been a great demographic for us. Millennials are digital natives who have a higher expectation that things will be mobile and social, and that our stores and website will be seamless and connected. So, if you can win them over, then you can win over all your consumers. Millennials not only lead adoption of digital media, apps and experiences, but they’re also important as long-term customers.
eMarketer: Any examples of how you approach initiatives that will attract millennials and keep them coming back?
Lesperance: One example is our photo-printing business. It’s a very mature business—people don’t print all their photos anymore, and we understand that. We know that the majority of the world’s photos are shared on Facebook, so we worked with Facebook and launched an app called Print Worthy.
“Millennials not only lead adoption of digital media, apps and experiences, but they’re also important as long-term customers.”
Millennials’ camera is their phone and it’s on them all the time, so they’re actually taking more photos. The app enables people to create what we call a “social print,” which is unlike a typical photo [because] we actually allow you to include your friends’ comments to the right side of the print.
If you’ve just been engaged, or your child was born or you just took a vacation, people who love sharing on Facebook love getting the comments back—it’s part of the experience of sharing. So we can capture that now with your photo print. What we hear from our customers is Facebook is awesome for sharing photos, but it’s here today, gone tomorrow—there’s no permanence. They want to save the memory of that feeling of getting comments back from people. So we created a product for it and we’re really excited about that.
eMarketer: Are you doing location-based marketing?
“We are using foursquare and we always have lots of check-ins.”
Lesperance: We are, and we’re doing mobile couponing. We are using foursquare and we always have lots of check-ins. foursquare had the feature of clicking on a link to get a coupon, but we wanted to go a step further to embed the barcode into the checkout itself. We became foursquare’s exclusive launch partner and we rolled it out at South by Southwest this year with AriZona Tea, which has tons of fans and they’re a good grab-and-go, and we are a grab-and-go destination. It’s worked so well. We have offers running continuously on foursquare as well as in the Walgreens mobile app, where you’ll see things like Nabisco Crackers or Hershey’s products or things that are easily sort of grabbed and consumed on the fly.
eMarketer: What do you envision next for mobile at Walgreens?
Lesperance: We ask ourselves what’s next and what else can we do? We get 6 million people a day in our physical stores. We now have planograms for every store in our app, so we know every item that’s on a shelf by store and where it’s located. You can create a shopping list in the app and there’s a button that with one click, the items on your list appear on the store map, which is a representation of the store.
People need a reason to take their phone out while they’re in a hurry in the store—there’s no need to wait around at a Walgreens.
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