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Marketing Brand Strategy Boots

Why Boots is using podcasts to ‘reposition’ the brand


By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

July 30, 2021 | 5 min read

Boots has launched its own podcast series that will touch on taboo subjects as the brand looks to “reposition” itself from product pusher to a place for advice. We speak to Emma Locker, the retailer’s head of marketing, to find out more.

boots pod

Host Vogue Williams has 868,000 Instagram followers while first guest Jamie Laing has nearly a million

Boots has entered the world of podcasting, launching its own series earlier this week. Called ‘Taboo Talk’, it looks to address the less discussed aspects of people’s health and wellness, ranging from anxiety and sex to pregnancy and periods.

The seven-episode series will be hosted by TV star Vogue Williams who will interview a different celebrity, as well as healthcare professionals, every week.

It’s the first time the retailer has experimented in this space. Emma Locker, Boots’ head of marketing for brand and exclusives, said the move was sparked by the increasing number of customers becoming more conscious of their health during the pandemic.

“They have an appetite to learn more about their health, from everyday issues through to taboo topics that can sometimes go unheard. As a trusted voice, we felt that by launching a podcast we could tap into interesting conversations that our customers could relate to in a fresh and engaging way.”

It comes as the brand slowly recovers from the impact of the pandemic on its retail business. Sales have improved by 12% according to the latest filing from its parent company, Wallgreen Boots Alliance, as Covid-19 restrictions eased. Its online sales, meanwhile, were up over 40%

As it emerges from a challenging year and encourages shoppers back to the high street, it wants to “reposition” itself, using its brand marketing to show that it not only offers products but healthcare advice as well.

“The aim of the podcast is to push boundaries, face into conversations that so many people can relate to and yet still go unheard of. In some sense, we want to reposition the brand to showcase that we can offer both products and advice that goes beyond traditional healthcare essentials. We want customers to know that we are there for them across every aspect of their health.”

It is not the first – and certainly won’t be the last – brand to venture into podcasting, of course. According to Acast – the audio streaming service on which Talking Taboos will be hosted – in 2020 it distributed twice as many branded podcasts as it did in 2019.

And Acast says the average listening time for an episode of a branded podcast on its site is 28 minutes, with many of those listeners going on to subscribe and listen to multiple episodes.

Competing for listeners will depend entirely on the PR and social media strategy Boots has set. “There are a lot of podcasts out there that cover health and wellness and one of our main ambitions with Taboo Talk was to have a point of difference, by bringing celebrities and influencers together to talk about relatable stories in a relaxed and authentic way.“

At the heart of the PR plan are the the celebrities and influencers featured, who have been asked to promote it via their social followers – host Vogue Williams, for example, has 868,000 Instagram followers, while first guest Jamie Laing – a successful podcast host himself – has nearly a million.

Boots also as a paid social campaign on the go and will target members of its loyalty program as it tries to draw in listeners.

There are no plans – yet – to include in-stream advertising or third-party advertising, though it will use it as an opportunity to mention Boots own-brand products at the end of each episode when related to the topic.

“This is all very new to us and we will learn, trial and test as we go to give our listeners the content that they enjoy the most,” says Locker on the potential to generate revenue from the series in future.

“To evaluate this piece of work we will be looking at the number of listens per episode plus web traffic to our podcast hub. If all goes well, we hope to continue leading by example by talking openly and honestly about health and wellness, breaking down taboos and normalizing them as part of everyday conversation.”

Marketing Brand Strategy Boots

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