Drugstore.com Tunes Its Holiday Marketing

Drugstore.com plans to take the wraps off of its Holiday Store 2000 on Oct. 30. The company will promote this online holiday boutique through a series of targeted promotions and marketing efforts.

This is a far cry from the company's all-out blitz last holiday season, when drugstore.com was one of the many companies that unleashed a barrage of advertisements. Most notable was its commercials featuring men in white jumpsuits who sneak into houses and replace customer's toiletries.

The campaign blanketed not only television, but also radio, print and consumers' mailboxes online and offline.

“We were getting out the word and building brand awareness. We threw lots of spaghetti against the wall,” said Martha Richter, director of customer acquisition at drugstore.com, Bellevue, WA. “This year we're trying to be smart about talking to the right customers. Instead of shouting everything to everyone, we're whispering it to the right customers. It's part of the evolution.”

One of the only channels the site is sticking with is direct mail. Beginning next month, drugstore.com will mail to 10 lists. Richter would not reveal the quantity of the mailings nor where drugstore.com obtained its lists.

The offer will be a gift with purchase. Drugstore.com customers who make a purchase from Oct. 31 to Dec. 25 will receive a free pair of slippers, Cranberry Creative Juices shower gel by Philosophy and a Tazo four-flavor tea sampler.

“The idea behind the slipper promotion is that the Internet is the easiest way to shop,” Richter said. “You can sit there by the fireplace in your comfortable slippers and have a steaming cup of tea instead of running around like a crazy person.”

The slipper offer also will be sent to the company's database of more than 1 million customers via e-mail. The site also plans to do some spot banner advertising as well as purchase an advertorial in Glamour magazine.

Rather than burn all of its capital on marketing, the company will leverage its relationships with better-funded heavy hitters such as America Online, Microsoft Network and Amazon.com. Drugstore.com will be featured in the shopping areas of AOL and MSN.

“They're doing the big consumer promotions where they are offering huge cash prizes,” Richter said. “They're doing heavy lifting in making the broad-reach advertising noise, and we get to be more targeted and more effective with our marketing.”

The site also will appear in Amazon's holiday catalog, which is expected to reach approximately 8 million consumers.

The Holiday Store 2000 is designed to take the stress out of finding holiday gifts by offering customers gift certificates and shopping recommendations. It will offer more than 350 items in eight categories: Stocking Stuffers, Bath and Relaxation and Health and Grooming, Holiday Entertaining, Top Ten Gift, By Price, By Person and Holiday Necessities.

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