Walgreens, please just tell me goodbye

Why this health care editor doesn’t want corporate America telling her to ‘be well.’

Have you purchased something at Walgreens lately?

Every time I go there and buy something, a cashier will end the transaction by saying, “Be well.”

This is really starting to annoy me.

For starters, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say back to them. Telling someone to “be well” is not a normal way to end a transaction or conversation. I’ve tried my own slogans to say back to them, but it just winds up making everything more awkward:

“Be well to you, too.”
“Thanks. Be well, yourself.”
“May you also be well.”

I usually just nod and say, “OK.”

Most of the time, when I go to Walgreens, I’m already well. How can I get more well? I guess “be well” implies that they want me to continue on my path of wellness, but it puts a lot of pressure on me not to pick up a cold on my walk back home.

What about if I go to Walgreens and I’m already really sick? If I walk into the store with bleary eyes and a hacking cough and I’m clutching a pack of Tylenol Cold? Will a cashier tell me to “be well” then? It would be more appropriate to say, “Be well soon.” Or maybe, “Have you seen a doctor?”

When a company makes its employees say certain things, being an individual—and responding to the needs of the customer—gets lost.

As it turns out, this is indicative of the Walgreens PR department. I called and emailed them with my questions about the phrase.

I wanted to know how long the “be well” phrase has been in place, whether there’s a penalty for employees who forget to say it, and when they were doing the “be well” phrase in focus groups, what were the alternative phrases that didn’t get picked? Maybe, “Watch your step on the way out,” or, “That’s a lovely brooch,” or perhaps, “Sorry about your haircut.”

Unfortunately, Walgreens PR didn’t answer these questions. Instead, I got this response back:

“Thank you and Be Well” has been used in select markets and is expected to go chain wide this year. Our branded salutations further align our team members to our purpose of helping people get, stay and live well. In general, we’ve found that customer satisfaction increases through such positive interactions, which help make their shopping experience a bit more memorable.

As Walgreens works to become the first choice for health and daily living, we aim to own the strategic territory of Well. Walgreens delivers the Well Experience throughout everything we do—from our store format and offerings to our customer service and employee engagement.

Is it any surprise the closing line of the email was, “Be Well”?

Telling someone to “be well” is just not natural. It’s the company’s tagline.

I know we’re all being marketed to like crazy, but I’d rather hear a commercial or read an advertisement with the company’s line—not having it said by a human being like a robot. If I go to McDonald’s and buy a hamburger, I don’t want the cashier to take my money and say, “I’m lovin’ it.”


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