Walgreens Lays Its Social Responsibility On(the)line

Discussion
Aug 06, 2010
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By
George
Anderson

A
company’s
commitment
to the community and
causes is important to
many stakeholders, including
consumers, employees
and investors. Numerous
studies have shown a
commitment to a cause,
all other things being relatively
equal, can be the difference
in where consumers shop
and what brands they
buy.

Walgreens, as with many other commercial entities, has a sense of organizational
pride in a wide range of causes. A press release on the
drugstore chain’s website mentions its "commitment to community, diversity,
supplier diversity, disability inclusion and the environment."

Now, Walgreens
has made it easier to see what it is up
with a new designed website that includes articles, interactive features, personal
stories and videos about its do-gooding ways.

"Walgreens is proud of its long history of commitment to communities," said
Chuck Greener, vice president of corporate affairs and communications at Walgreens,
in a press release. "Visitors to the site will see how we take social
responsibility to heart and also discover the many ways Walgreens and our customers
help neighborhoods throughout the country."

The new website, Walgreens.com/responsibility,
features video on the company’s health and wellness programs, as well as information
on its efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags and recycling programs for
cell phones and printer cartridges. It also covers plans to bring food to stores
in so-called food deserts, hiring programs for people with disabilities, and
more.

Discussion Questions: Is social responsibility a requirement for success
in business today for large companies? Do you think of Walgreens’ new website
presents a good example for other retail chains to emulate?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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13 Comments on "Walgreens Lays Its Social Responsibility On(the)line"


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Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 9 months ago

Social responsibility is not a requirement but a commitment to core values, goals or initiatives. A lot of major chains don’t get this and they do not promote the store manager to be an active member of the community.

There’s a lot of missed opportunity here. Consumers do, if given a choice, want to do business with companies that care, give back, and are active members of the community.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 9 months ago
If you are doing something good, you might as well tell people about it. The Walgreens site does a good job of highlighting their initiatives. But, remember, if you are telling people about it, you better be doing something good. Too often “Social Responsibility” is something companies take on for the boasting value in hopes that it will make people feel good about them and buy more stuff. Fortunately, most people see through this folly. The activity must be sincere to be effective. And, it has to be effective within the company first, before the results spill out to generate more sales. Does a more content employee make for a better company? Of course. The initiative must be under the umbrella of doing it because it is the right thing to do. This can not be part of a business plan showing that an investment in Socially Responsible initiatives will generate an ROI. It appears something good is happening at Walgreens. Four years ago they were one of the most unethical operators at retail. Now… Read more »
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 9 months ago

Ultimately, retail success depends on providing a targeted customer with a competitively superior product and/or service. It seems unlikely that consumers will pick Walgreens simply because they have a website of their good deeds. However, given the market share battle for a smaller retail spend, this certainly can’t hurt and is most probably as great way to enhance the brand.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Social responsibility should be the norm in today’s environment. However, at the very least it appears to be a well-positioned tie breaker when consumers consider companies/products/services of perceived equal value. Take a look at the traction Walmart is getting from its “save money, live better” campaign. Social responsibility in addition to being a good thing represents a temporary point of difference.

Yes, the Walgreens site is a good one, worth emulating.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Retailers certainly think that outreach to society is a plus! Many have dedicated a staff position or two to coordinating these programs. Building good will looks like a smart move.

Jesse Rooney
Guest
Jesse Rooney
10 years 9 months ago

Walgreens’ social responsibility program is great, but they should take it a step further by providing examples in the store about what the local store and its management is doing for the community. Just keeping this good news on the website will not reach many shoppers who will not bother to visit the site, but a poster board on an easel in the front of the store showing the little league team the store sponsored will bring the goodwill front and center for all shoppers to see. Make it local, make it immediate, and Walgreens will have it made.

Roy White
Guest
Roy White
10 years 9 months ago

It is absolutely essential in today’s retail world to not only be socially responsible, but also to make sure that customers, suppliers, and associates are all aware of it. That is particularly important for drug and supermarket retailers, inasmuch as chain drug stores are very involved with their customers’ health and supermarkets provide the food that is put on the dining room table.

Moreover, consumers support companies that are socially responsible. A study released earlier this year by Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller reports that, “75% of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55% of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don’t.” Indeed, many of the consumers participating in the study said they would be willing to pay more for products from a socially responsible company–as much as $10 more.

Being corporately socially responsible is not only necessary to do business today, it can build business at the same time.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Social responsibility and a commitment to the community you serve is definitely an important feature in today’s corporate success model. There are many companies. There are opportunities everywhere to be good citizens. Things like supporting youth activities and Citizens Against Crime, to name only two. Getting the name out there is sometimes all it takes.

Jeff Hall
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

100% of respondents to this article’s poll feel social responsibility is more important than ever, and this is an accurate reflection of today’s consumers. Retail brands who most successfully differentiate and connect with consumers understand the importance of community stewardship, and importantly, they create awareness around their socially responsible activities. I’m confident we’ll see more retailers follow Walgreens’ lead.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
10 years 9 months ago

Numerous studies have shown a commitment to a cause, all other things being relatively equal, can be the difference in where consumers shop and what brands they buy. I hear this but have never actually seen any documentation.

The fact is, causes are not the key. It’s developing a relationship with the community where you do business and this doesn’t have to be cause related. The greatest assert Walgreen’s has is its pharmacists. If Walgreens wanted to make a difference, it would send its pharmacists into the schools to provide some counseling and education. Being aligned with causes often does as much harm as good as many feel their cause is more important than yours and will avoid you for helping someone else (sorry, but this is true). Walgreens would be wise to use its greatest assets to put a face on the store.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

A retailer or brand’s social responsibility definitely impacts consumer sales, however, all businesses should be aware that erroneous effects also will take place if the causes and the public relations happens to backfire. Consumers want retailers to be good citizens but not necessarily in a political or morally arrogant manner.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 9 months ago

It all depends on the end user, their willingness to actually believe in the social and green movement, and that it is not greenwashing. Some will pay more and engage more with the select retailer, some will not.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 9 months ago

Corporate social responsibility efforts can be seen as window dressing if they are not evident to consumers and an ongoing commitment. Retailers lose credibility when social responsibility efforts are a one time deal.

I don’t believe that consumers normally associate social responsibility with Walgreens, so the website is a good idea. As the largest national drug store, Walgreens can set an example. However, I would like their website to eventually include a corporate responsibility report, similar to what Target has on their website, where long term and current activities are clearly stated and even rated by outside organizations.

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