Boots is the United Kingdom's leading Health and Beauty retailer. It has 1,500 stores in the UK and Irish Republic and serves around 8 million customers every week.
A critical part of Boots' business is their pharmacy, and in 2005-6, Boots dispensed over 100 million items for the first time.
Crucial to Boots success right now is their Prescription Collection Service (PCS). When customers sign up to this service, the chemist collects repeat prescriptions from a customers Doctor, and has them ready and waiting instore.
PCS is offered by most other pharmacies - Lloyds, Superdrug, the grocers and independents. It is free.
There are two reasons why this service is critical to Boots' business.
Firstly, customers who sign up to this service are on average 20 per cent more loyal, and hence more valuable, than normal customers.
Secondly, over the next two years, UK adults will be under increasing pressure to choose one particular pharmacy as a destination for new "electronic prescriptions". Existing habits may effectively be “locked in”, and pharmacies in optimal dispensing locations are expected to benefit at the expense of pharmacies with more occasional use. As only 20 per cent of Boots stores are located better than competitors', Boots' dispensing business could be decimated.
With a £9.8bn market at stake, the race is on to maximise the number of customers nominating Boots as their pharmacy of choice for PCS before electronic prescriptions come in.
Exploring key market drivers
Brand Tracking data showed that Boots continued to be rated much higher than competitors on the quality and choice of healthcare products and on customer knowledge and advice. However, only 19 per cent of dispensing customers identified Boots as their first choice pharmacy.
The reason Boots isn't first choice is because only 20 per cent of Boots stores are more conveniently located than their competitors - and convenience is the primary driver of pharmacy choice.
The dispensing audience is critical to Boots. More importantly when you analyse the audience it becomes apparent that the pareto principle applies to Boots pharmacy. 60 per cent customers are on repeat medication, this 60 per cent generates 90 per cent of the Boots pharmacy revenue.
In addition it is important to remember that our audience is heavily skewed towards those over the age of 60 (57per cent). This was important for us to keep in mind as we develop the strategy and Mother developed the creative work. We had to ensure that our positioning and messaging were relevant and motivating to a certain type of consumer.
Brand positioning or USP
Government legislation makes it illegal for any company to claim that their Prescription Collection Service brand is better or different from competitors'.
So in the absence of a distinct USP, PCS is effectively a parity service. As such, the positioning, creative and use of media became even more critical.
1. Operational: store visits revealed that the staff don’t understand the PCS service and can’t explain its benefit
2. Competitive: every competitor has an equal service to us. Some are using television advertising to raise awareness.
3. Comms: the previous agency had tried to use TV advertising to drive PCS sign-ups. While it may have driven awareness, it drove virtually no sign-ups.
4. Consumer: qualitative research revealed that customers didn’t understand the benefits of the service either. They needed a few minutes of someone explaining it, and then they really understood how it saved them having to stand in a queue.
The Communications Strategy
Upon deeper interrogation of the brief, it was apparent that the required campaign was not an awareness one. This was not a mass message or proposition – this was aimed specifically at people on repeat prescription. Therefore traditional ATL channels would prove to be an inefficient way of meeting our clients business objectives.
There's only one place where you're really receptive about a message about not having to get tired of waiting in a queue. It's when you're standing in one.
So we spent most of our media budget on huge signs hung above the queue.
And then when customers got to the front of the queue, we got our staff to offer customers the chance to sign up to a service where you never have to queue again.
So we were now communicating the right message at the right time.
Remember the staff in-store didn't understand the service. And we were now using them as the primary communications channel.
We couldn't just give them a T-shirt and a badge and expect them to sign customers up.
So the final part of the strategy was to: train our staff on how to sell the service incentivise the staff by giving them longer coffee breaks if they reached their target number of sign-ups introduce a standard operating procedure so they knew how to operate the service properly.
Our strategy increased sign-ups from 1000 per week to 10,500 per week - more than 5 times our target, and more than 10 times as effective as the "advertising" strategy. Of these, 51 per cent went on to actively use service (318,113)
The 118,113 new users represent incremental revenue of £42,520,680
The 20 per cent uplift from existing customers who have signed up represents incremental revenue of £8,504,136.
The total incremental revenue is therefore £51,024,816
Five per cent of this is attributable to growth in the dispensing market
So the total incremental revenue in real terms is £48,473,575 of which 30 per cent is profit.
So the incremental profit that we have achieved in real terms in 05-06 is £14,542,073
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