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Group Vice President of Customer Marketing Platforms at Walgreens
Three years ago, Alyssa Raine left the supplier world of consumer packaged goods (CPG) to join the frontlines of retail and healthcare. Now Group Vice President of Customer Marketing Platforms at Walgreens, Raine works with CPGs to build personalized relationships that engage some 8 million Walgreens customers daily in over 9,000 micro communities.
Why the jump to retail?
“I grew up on the CPG side of the house, which was fabulous for learning the nuts and bolts of how to build brands and product portfolios. I came to Walgreens for personal reasons because I loved their purpose of serving our local communities to help them live healthier and happier lives. I had always had great Walgreens store experiences, regardless of where I was living or where I was traveling for business or personal reasons. Walgreens always lived up to my high expectations. They helped me when I needed them the most for acute or chronic needs for myself or my family, and it was also a joy when I needed something simple. On a professional note, I came to Walgreens because I realized the value of owning the customer experience and the respective data that unlocks your ability to better serve health and wellbeing to diverse communities,” Raine says. “If you unlock that, it’s just magic.”
The CMO Council sat down with Raine to gain insights about the challenges and opportunities in leveraging first-party commerce data. We also explored how a big national retailer shares its best practices with giant CPGs to enhance the customer experience.
CPG suppliers know they have a customer data blindspot. How are you helping them?
Raine: As a retailer we are uniquely equipped with first-party commerce data that is highly valuable, and CPG organizations are clamoring for it. Walgreens has had a loyalty program for over seven years, so we have a rich history of customer insights and data, not just credit card data. By launching myWalgreens, changing from a discount loyalty program to an engagement platform, we're able to deliver customers more personalized experiences and are seeing a ton of interest from our suppliers to partner with us. IRI (Information Resources Inc.) and Nielsen data is great, but we have a customer-first perspective versus a household-panel perspective that allows us to really recognize and cater to individual customers. CPGs who weren't our strongest partners want to collaborate more closely because they understand the value of the insights into customer behaviors and preferences Walgreens can offer.
We have a lot of first-party insights, so I'm looking at what is most important to take care of our customers' very unique and dynamic needs and how to use it in a way that serves our them and protects their privacy and preferences. We are very focused on our customers and patients and how we can deliver the most personalized experience through our digital channels. We also look at how we can deliver exceptional personalized experiences in our physical stores in partnership with our store team members, and how we can unlock the power of our pharmacists at scale. I have been at Walgreens for three years, and am constantly in awe of the knowledge and expertise our pharmacists possess and how much they care about the patients they help.
What kind of data insights do you share with CPG suppliers?
Raine: It’s important to note that we share insights, which is different from sharing data. We take a strong stance on not sharing first-party data, but we absolutely share what we're learning so that suppliers can better serve our customers. We've always shared insights back with suppliers, but now it’s more real-time and stronger insights. We're not just looking at, say, women ages 25 to 54 but the hyper-segmented behaviors within our audiences.
For example, today there are a lot of male DIY beauty and personal care customers who want tools to best take care of themselves at home. When most people hear the words beauty and personal care, they think cosmetics. That's not actually the case when you look at the audiences and data. We know if a customer buys a certain brand of shampoo and not the conditioner. Oral care is also really big among men and by knowing their preferences, we’re able to collaborate with suppliers to offer them more personalized offers or complimentary product recommendations. We’re also seeing a lot of people wanting to proactively manage their health by taking different types of vitamins and other preventative health and safety measures.
All of this means we’ve become smarter as a marketing organization and are able to bring those insights and strategic thinking to our supplier partners. This can inform new product launches, push innovation and help us make sure we’re offering a variety of products for everyone, as well as curating personalized offers based on an individual’s specific preferences.
CPG suppliers also share insights with us. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain management is a great example. We collaborated with GSK for the Voltaren launch and our pharmacists received specialized training in providing empathetic care and personalized pain management solutions. These solutions are offered by one-on-one consultations in stores, through the Walgreens app via Pharmacy Chat, over the phone, or online. Recently, we’ve added more OTC pain management offerings to our aisles, such as percussion massage and Walgreens brand light therapy, so our pharmacists are now able to say, “Here are different ways you can manage your pain that are OTC.”
How do you ensure consumer privacy?
Raine: Privacy is absolutely top of mind and important, and this will only increase. A relationship is built on trust, so it’s imperative that customers and patients know we will be a good partner in terms of their data.
We’re really focusing on how we can best take care of our patients and customers and their very personal data in partnership with our privacy office. As we begin projects, we carefully evaluate our approach to using data and insights and pull in key partners before we even start working. We have a review process with marketers, privacy, legal and clinical so that we’re all aligned in terms of what’s compliant and what isn't. We keep an eye on continuously changing legislation. My team and I work closely with our Global Chief Privacy Officer, Lara Liss, and her team to talk about the right process that is not only compliant, but also reflects Walgreens’ very strong values.