Walgreens Launches New Digital and Marketing Division

Walgreens announced the appointment of Sona Chawla, president of e-commerce, as president of digital and chief marketing officer. In this new role, Chawla will lead a newly created digital and marketing division, establishing a unified and integrated digital, enterprise-wide marketing, and customer loyalty and insights group to advance Walgreens “Well Experience” strategy and vision to be the first choice in health and daily living in America and beyond.

“Digital technology continues to drive major change in retail and health care, and Walgreens is moving full speed ahead to harness and combine digital, marketing innovations and customer loyalty and insights to give customers what they want, where and when they want it,” said Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens. “With Sona’s success in establishing Walgreens as a retail digital pioneer, her leadership of our combined digital and marketing efforts will continue to accelerate our Well Experience strategy to step out of the traditional drugstore format and create a truly differentiated experience for customers and patients.”

“Bringing our digital, marketing and consumer technology together and linking it with the powerful consumer data and insights we get through our Balance Rewards program and digital channels will further position Walgreens as a customer-driven brand,” said Alex Gourlay, executive vice president and president of customer experience and daily living. “With her experience and success in advancing Walgreens digital strategies and online customer experience, Sona is the perfect leader to accelerate our rapid evolution into omni-channel marketing and customer engagement.”

Walgreens also announced that Graham Atkinson, senior vice president and chief marketing and customer experience officer, is retiring at the end of January 2014. Atkinson has been responsible for developing and leading Walgreens enterprise marketing and loyalty strategies, with a specific emphasis on customer experience. Atkinson led the successful and record-setting launch of Walgreens Balance Rewards customer loyalty program in 2012, now with more than 85 million members.

“Graham has had an extraordinary impact on Walgreens during his three-year role with the company, and we are indebted to him for his vision, leadership and accomplishments,” Wasson said. “We asked Graham to join our team and take on a singular focus—to launch the most successful customer loyalty program in retail history—and he did just that. Beyond Balance Rewards, importantly, he also instilled customer-centric principles into our culture and took on the additional role of chief marketing officer in the past year to build and develop our corporate marketing function.”

Chawla, as president of digital and chief marketing officer, will lead the new digital and marketing division that combines three existing groups—e-commerce, corporate marketing and customer loyalty and insights—that have significantly advanced Walgreens Well Experience strategy. These groups have built a strong corporate brand through a web and mobile presence, the Balance Rewards loyalty program and customer segmentation and insights. Bringing these teams together will allow the company to leverage its combined talent, knowledge and assets to accelerate its omni-channel vision as part of Gourlay’s customer experience and daily living organization.

“Our goal is to optimize our marketing investments and mix to reach consumers where they are, as their use of digital media continues to escalate,” Chawla said. “This means more than just adding digital media to our marketing portfolio. We also will adopt a digital mindset throughout our marketing efforts.”

Chawla joined Walgreens in July 2008 as senior vice president of e-commerce and was promoted to her current position in January 2011. Her team has been responsible for the company’s digital strategy and implementation to support the health and daily living businesses across the Walgreens portfolio of websites, mobile and stores.

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