Pharmacy Flu Shot Battle


It’s cold and flu season again.  Did you get a flu shot yet?  If you haven’t, don’t worry because CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid will make sure you don’t forget.  Over the past couple years the big pharmacies took advantage of the H1N1 scare and have stepped up their online and offline marketing efforts to make it really clear they are the go-to-place for annual flu shots.

As a digital marketer who gets a flu shot each year I became curious about which pharmacy is winning the battle to recruit the most patients searching for information on flu shots.  Looking at unique visitors to the websites of CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid you’d think that Walgreens is winning this thing.

However, search traffic is a different story.  Using a Keyword Destination search for “flu shots” you can see clearly that CVS is the big winner for flu shot traffic just behind content rich CDC.gov.  Walgreens is a fairly close second for the pharmacies and Rite Aid is a very distant third.

So what is CVS doing that Walgreens is not?  Well, on the online front they are trouncing the competition with SEM and SEO.  For the search term “Flu Shot” CVS not only owns the top paid ad placements on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, but they also appear on the first page of organic results.  Walgreens on the other hand is buried on the second page.

While both CVS and Walgreens have dedicated pages on their websites for flu shot information with store locators, appointment calendars, and even flu shot eGift Cards CVS has done a better job optimizing their landing pages.


Combining those online efforts with offline ads canvassing traditional media CVS has emerged as the early leader in pharmacy flu shots.

About Dan Pflock:
Dan Pflock is a Product Manager at Compete where he is focused on the support, strategy, and development of new and existing media measurement products. Before Dan joined Compete he attended Bentley University and spent six years working in marketing and product management roles at Boston area start ups. Follow Dan on Twitter @danpflock or connect with him on LinkedIn or Google+