Meijer follows other big retailers in announcing they are giving away generic drugs to customers. The story on TV 8 shows how this may be more a sign of the big retailers' competitive struggle than it is an expansion of Meijer's corporate social responsibility agenda.
The Meijer press release never really says why the company is being so generous. President Mark Murray does say it is "all about higher standards," staying on message with the company's latest brand efforts.
So, we are left to wonder if this is really a "loss leader" program, an effort of slick marketing, or genuine public relations in the sense that the company is being a caring corporate citizen and trying to address a real problem. It could very well be the latter. If Meijjer is successful in getting reimbursement from health care providers, and even some assistance from generic drug makers--is Perrigo listening down in Allegan--it could be a model in corporate philanthropy.
But the bottom line is this--it can't be about the bottom line directly. It has to be a genuine desire to help people. In so doing, it will improve relationships Meijer has with multiple publics. That will yield trust, extend the brand, and may in time influence the bottom line positively. That's PR.