Retailers’ Flu Shot Promotions: No Swine of the Times to Spur Consumers


Elmo isn’t the only urging Americans to stay healthy this flu season. 

One year after the H1N1 flu epidemic (and panic) turned out to be a relative global yawn, U.S. retailers nevertheless believe they can leverage echoes of influenza anxiety into winning promotions this fall.

Target, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and regional retailers including Jewel-Osco and Duane Reade are promoting themselves as convenient destinations for flu shots and for associated savings on seasonal-fortification products. They’re already busy training more personnel in administering vaccinations, holding influenza-prevention clinics, and flocking to the flu-shot marketing theme.[more]

One of the latest is Winn-Dixie, the supermarket brand that is strong in the Southeast. In its What-a-Deal flu-prevention program kicking off today, customers purchasing a seasonal flu vaccination also get bonuses such as a four-pound bag of Florida navel oranges, a container of Simply Orange juice, and savings on cleanliness products.

Target and Walgreens have even run TV ads based on the theme. Walgreen’s goal, for example, is to deliver 15 million flu shots this season, more than double the 7.4 million of a year earlier.

The “trouble,” of course, is that there is nowhere near the hype and fear among the news media and the American populace about this year’s flu season as there were last year.
While these retailers may have found an effective new way to get the attention of consumers, the shots – which typically cost around $25 up to more than $50 depending on the type of inoculation – may not be tremendous motivators for getting them in the store.

The federal Centers for Disease Control isn’t sounding any particular alarms for this flu season. But there are plenty of customers who rightfully believe safe is better than sorry every flu season. Retail brands hope to make it easy for them to follow their worries.