Walgreens, the pharmacy retail chain, offers an example of how brands can engage with consumers around potentially sensitive topics in an empathetic, and effective, way with its “Feel More Like You” campaign.

This initiative, launched as a pilot program in early 2018 and extended to 3,000 stores run by Walgreens last year, is based on tackling some of the side effects of treatment that cancer patients are hesitant to discuss with doctors.

“The sentiment we were hearing was, ‘My doctors are focused on trying to keep me alive, and I don't want to waste their time,’” Pamela Grad, senior research manager at Walgreens, explained during The Market Research Event (TMRE) Digital Week. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Walgreens reached out to cancer patients who needed beauty advice.)

Problems such as dry mouth, itchy skin or eyebrow loss may be secondary when compared with the greater challenge of treating cancer, but patients’ needs in this area were very real.

“These people told us that it was important to look ‘normal’, but there were very few resources to help them,” Grad said in highlighting one key research insight.

Walgreens already dispensed medication to cancer patients, and found one in four members of this group was interested in receiving beauty advice, too. “It helped us to realize that we had permission to explore this area,” said Grad.

Alongside working with organisations like the Cancer Support Community and Look Good Feel Better, Walgreens trained pharmacists and beauty consultants regarding the products that can allay the aesthetic side effects of cancer.

Research and analytics drove this initiative, from understanding the experience of cancer patients and selecting Walgreens’ pilot stores to gathering patient stories that shaped marketing materials and evaluating performance.

The resultant insights showed Walgreens the this program was relevant not just to cancer patients, but also to the people around them.

“We also started to think we might have a much broader opportunity: Just about everybody – if not yourself, then it's an immediate family member, a neighbour, a co-worker, a parent, or one of your children's friends – is touched by cancer in some way,” Grad said.

Subsequent marketing spread the “Feel More Like You” mission to a wide audience of consumers. And Walgreens is continuing to support cancer-care organisations, as well as patients dealing with the disease.

“During this COVID environment, this type of content we think is very useful for cancer patients,” Grad explained to the TMRE Digital Week audience.

“We started out with an effort that was really focused on a relatively small group and expanded that much more broadly into a campaign that was really quite rewarding for the company and our customers.”

Sourced from WARC