Battle of the Brands: CVS vs Walgreens

They are on every corner. You are always guilty of going in for one item and end up making impulse purchases. No, we aren’t talking about Target or Wal-mart. This week our Battle of the Brands sizes up Walgreens and CVS, specifically the brands’ mobile apps.

At first glance, Walgreens and CVS’s mobile apps appear nearly interchangeable. According to their websites, both have the same offerings in the digital area: a mobile app, a mobile version of their site, an iPad app, and text alerts.

However once you download and explore their apps, certain patterns emerge as the two drug store giants strive to differentiate themselves in a saturated marker. After evaluating the functionality of both mobile apps for CVS and Walgreens, it’s readily apparent that Walgreens is seeking to connect with a younger, more tech savvy audience while CVS promotes features aimed at an older demographic.

Dive deeper into the applications and Walgreens begins to make a strong push toward promoting its photo editing and production capabilities. Walgreens’ mobile app allows printing directly from Instagram and allows the user to edit their photos on the app, two aspects key to younger audiences. They also allow refills by scan, a pill reminder, an easy way to transfer prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy and integration with iPhone’s Passbook application.

CVS’ application, however, focuses intently on health- and pharmacy-related applications within its core app. There is a drug interactions button that charts medication intake and possible side-effects, a pill identifier, and an entire section dedicated to refilling and transferring prescriptions. Their photo section lacks the advanced features that Walgreens’ touts, but functions to simply print pictures from either a CVS account or the user’s own phone. CVS also includes a link to set up appointments at their MinuteClinic from within the app itself.

An interesting twist is Walgreens’ Steps program, which acts as an incentive to exercise. The app allows for synching a pedometer with your account or entering steps manually into the app itself. It allows you to set goals and chart progress, and for every mile you walk, you receive points that can be traded in for discounts and rewards via their Balance® rewards program. Walgreens also has invested in integrating with iPhone’s passbook, which means that customers no longer need to physically carry around their cards. This dip into technology goes beyond mere application development and speaks to planning ahead for technology’s future.

All in all, CVS and Walgreens’ mobile apps have similar features, but subtly differ in their target audiences and general sophistication. The Walgreens app edges over CVS’ in general for a wider range of usefulness, though for those who simply need a health and pharmacy app, CVS has Walgreens beat.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:


  • Superior photo processing capabilities and options
  • Integration with iPhone’s Passbook
  • Runs on both Android and Apple software platforms
  • Rewards healthiness  with their Steps program


  • Superior pharmacy application
  • Targets an older demographic
  • Tablet application only runs on iPad
  • Functional photo processing



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