Rite Aid uses health/wellness loyalty benefits to stand out


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Since I began writing the COLLOQUY cover stories in August, 2009 (have you seen the most recent, Transformers?) I’ve realized that there is a certain point in my research and writing process where I just start forgetting that I have anything else on my plate — I just get laser-focused on finding everything I can to round out my story.

I reached that point recently with a story I’m working on for our early July issue of COLLOQUY, about how incentives and rewards and help nudge — or gently encourage — healthy behavior among consumers, whether that effort is done through employers, insurance companies, or pharmacies. With new healthcare legislation being put into place and rising health costs, the issue of how to encourage consumers to adopt healthy behaviors is more important than ever, particularly to prevent serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.

I was particularly interested in speaking to pharmacy leader Rite Aid, which, while it comes to the nationwide loyalty program table rather late in the game, brings some interesting cards in its pocket. It recently launched a new customer rewards program called wellness+, which it maintains is the drugstore industry’s only customer rewards program focused around pharmacy and wellness. The free wellness+ rewards card offers immediate benefits including 24/7 toll -free access to a pharmacist and 10% off Rite Aid brand products. Members accrue points (25 points for each eligible prescription filled; and one point for every dollar spend on non-prescription items) to get free health screenings and additional merchandise discounts.

I had the pleasure of speaking to John Learish, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Rite Aid, about the new program as well as about the larger issues related to our cover story on healthy behavior incentives. You’ll hear more of what he had to say in that issue, which will be published in early July, but here is just a taste of what he had to say about the debut of Rite Aid’s wellness+:

On a six-month pilot that preceded the nationwide rollout of wellness+: “We had tremendous response in terms of enrollment and in terms of actual usage of the card. We also did some pre and post-research with consumers in terms of their awareness and participation in the program as well as how it helped in terms of their perception of Rite Aid and how it helped with their overall health and well-being — those were all very, very high metrics.”

On the objectives Rite Aid had for wellness+: ”This program is one of the key deliverables of our brand strategy, which we call Wellness Empowerment, and it’s how we differentiate ourselves in the space by trying to help customers in their quest for better health and well-being. It’s not just health in terms of disease state management, it’s a more holistic view.  In addition, pharmacy has become a less sticky environment and there is a less and less differentiation between stores and between pharmacy retailers, so customers have no qualms about moving back and forth. So we have got to try to provide added value adn more reasons for customers to want to stay at a chain pharmacy.”

How Rite Aid decided on its list of wellness+ benefits: “We had to develop an offering that was competitive and differentiating, with the financials of what we thought we could afford and generate return on our investment. We tested an exhaustive list of financial health benefits, service benefits, gas rewards, we tested them all. We tested them singularly, we tested them in combination to make sure we had the most compelling combination. And what we netted out was a package of benefits that literally tested through the roof in terms of appeal, in terms of motivation for customers to enroll and, in fact, switch from a competitive drugstore. And we wanted a program that was not merely a discount card but one that rewarded customers both financially but their wellness as well — the 24/7 access to a pharmacist, for example, was the highest-rated benefit. The peace of mind customers get from having a professional at their disposal is obviously worth a lot.”

How a pharmacy’s loyalty program can play a role in encouraging health/wellness behavior: “As we start to develop new pharmacy services and to develop new health-related products and perhaps affinity services with other complementary retailers or providers, we look to the loyalty program to really be the faciliator that’s going to be a gateway into of all those.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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