Boots hopes new health and wellbeing positioning can arrest brand decline

Boots has unveiled a new above-the-line campaign positioning itself as a champion of the nation’s health and the high street retailer will hope the new messaging can make a difference as brand sentiment shows clear signs of decline.

A series of TV ads (see above) created by Mother show Boots staff offering help and advice to the general public on issues ranging from undiagnosed eye problems to teenage acne.

Boots says it wants to re-establish itself as a “champion of the people” and to put “the health needs of our customers at the centre of what we do”. And in addition to the first ad of the new TV campaign, there is a digital and outdoor campaign, as well as an incoming long-form online documentary that will reinforce its health values.

The move follows recent activity where Boots spread awareness of the importance of sun tan lotion into schools, in a move it claimed would help create brand awareness among the next generation. However, the new activity comes at a difficult time for the Boots brand.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, Boots’ Index rating, which measures consumer perception of metrics such as quality, value, reputation and satisfaction, has fallen 2.1 points to a score of 34.1 over the last year. This drop is deemed ‘statistically significant’.

Its buzz score, a balance of the negative and positive things consumers have heard about the Boots brand, is also on the slide having fallen by 1.5 points to a score of 3.4. This puts Boots behind discount retailers such as B&M Bargains.

Falling brand reputation

Boots new campaign focuses on its commitment to health and wellbeing

A recent investigation by The Guardian claimed that in the pursuit of profitability, Boots was forcing its pharmacists to sacrifice product quality and pressure consumers into carrying out unnecessary, and costly, health checks.

And over the last 30 days, the impact of the report appears to have contributed as Boots’ reputation score fell at the steepest rate on a list of the UK’s 42 biggest high street retail brands. It fell 7.4 points to a score 24.2, meaning Boots dropped by three positions to 12th in the process.

Perhaps more worrying for Boots is that its reputation has been on a statistically significant slide for a much longer period, with its score over the last 12 months falling 2.3 points to 25.3.

Boots, which is currently owned by Walgreen Boots Alliance, has “gone off the boil”, according to Bryan Roberts, global insights director at TCC Global.

He explains: “With so many changes in ownership, there’s been a sense that Boots has been run for cash and cut quite a few corners.

“In-store standards at Boots have taken a hit, marketing has been limited to price-based messages and the brand has gone off the boil a little.”

Bryan Roberts, global insights director at TCC Global

Although it remains third out of 42 retailers, Boots’ ad awareness score has fallen at a significant rate over the last year falling 2.6 points to a score of 16.6. And Roberts says the new campaign is “good timing” after a period of “unspectacular” advertising.

He concludes: “Positioning the brand as health-conscious is a good idea as Superdrug already has the beauty end covered so Boots is in a good position to make it work.

“It is the right timing [for a new ad campaign] as Boots is still one of the UK’s most trusted brands and can put things right.”