Walgreens checks in with Foursquare for a mobile coupon program

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Walgreens checks in with Foursquare for a mobile coupon program
Walgreens checks in with Foursquare for a mobile coupon program

Client: Walgreen's
Vendor: Foursquare
Objective: Target customers with location-based mobile coupons

Prescriptions, not print circulars, are the inspiration behind drugstore chain Walgreens' mobile coupon programs. Encouraged by the success of its “Refill By Scan” initiative, which lets customers order a prescription refill by scanning an Rx label with a mobile phone, Walgreens teamed up with location-based social network Foursquare in March 2012 to roll out a geo-driven mobile coupon program.

Shoppers who check in through Foursquare are offered a unique, scannable coupon, which they can redeem at the point-of-sale.

Walgreens has been experimenting with mobile coupons since last year's Black Friday when a nationwide digital coupon program based on the drugstore's rereleased mobile app resulted in half a million downloads in the month of December alone. But joining forces with Foursquare was “the next logical step” in its efforts to capture a larger share of today's coupon-at-the-ready market, says Rich Lesperance, Walgreens' head of digital marketing and emerging media.

STRATEGY: Many retailers offer digital coupons to lure a younger, more tech savvy demographic. But pharmacies, Lesperance says, have customers that are both young and old. “We have a broad demographic that is unique to Walgreens,” he explains.

To appeal to as wide a range as possible—young and old alike—the drugstore's offers are focused regionally, selected based on “location awareness.” After all, he says, product offers that “might make sense in Texas in March” may not make for a great promotional offer for shoppers in Illinois.

GOALS: This location-centric approach to mobile coupons is paying off for Walgreens. For one, the strategy allows the drugstore chain to offer coupons from a wide array of CPGs, including Hershey's and Arizona Beverage Company. Geo-driven campaigns have also helped Walgreens achieve redemption rates that are higher than those of its print circulars. “When our customers explicitly check into Walgreens through Foursquare, it means they're in the neighborhood, so as long as the offers are relevant, we're seeing a very high redemption rate,” Lesperance says. Walgreens declined to disclose exact figures.

Walgreens' mobile coupon program is changing the way it interacts with well-known CPGs. In the past, Walgreens' interactions with CPGs revolved around “seasonal and product release cycles,” Lesperance says. “What's different…is the ability for me and my team to connect directly with different brands throughout the year, which can lead to a lot of brainstorming and innovation.”

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