Taking The Next Step With wellness+The program is retaining customers and motivating them to spend more. Now Rite Aid looks to use it to attract new customers, especially in the pharmacy.
When Rite Aid launched wellness+ chainwide on April 18, 2010, the company estimated that associates would enroll about 20 million customers during the first year. Instead, associates took less than six months to clear that hurdle. The program now has more than 40 million members.
There have been other successes during the program’s first 16 months: +UP Reward coupons debuted in June 2010 and proved to be a hit with customers; the company began experiencing positive sales trends late last year and credited wellness+ as a key factor; and recently Zocalo Group and M/A/R/C Research analyzed online interactions among consumers and concluded that wellness+ is the most highly recommended rewards program in the country.
“wellness+ is meeting all of our expectations and then some,” says Chief Operating Officer Ken Martindale. “We’re pleased that it’s been a successful first year, but we’re also excited about the opportunities we have to build on this momentum heading forward, particularly when it comes to attracting new customers to our pharmacy.”
Martindale says wellness+ is already helping to retain current front-end and pharmacy customers while motivating front-end customers to spend more with each purchase. +UP Rewards are giving front-end customers a reason to shop at Rite Aid more frequently.
Heading forward, the company is focused on using wellness+ to attract new customers to the pharmacy, both by encouraging existing front-end-only shoppers to fill their prescriptions at Rite Aid and by ramping up marketing efforts to communicate the value of wellness+ to those who don’t typically shop at Rite Aid, says Senior Vice President of Marketing John Learish.
“wellness+ offers tremendous value and we want to deliver that message loud and clear,” Learish says. “In May, we launched a marketing campaign – including TV commercials nationwide – that focused on how filling prescriptions at our pharmacy is the fastest way to become a gold-level wellness+ member and save 20 percent in our stores every day for a year.”
The campaign’s “How did you get to gold?” theme portrayed customers explaining which items they purchased at Rite Aid to accumulate 1,000 points and become a gold-level member. Messages also communicated how the +UP Rewards program offers customers an average of $100 in savings every week.
Around the same time, the company launched an associate training program encouraging store associates to broaden their knowledge of wellness+ and feel comfortable discussing the program’s benefits with their customers.
Each store team received an educational kit that includes a breakroom poster, counter display with associate reminders and a tip sheet for pharmacy staff reinforcing that qualifying prescriptions are the fastest way to earn a gold membership. In addition, special 12-card “survival guides” are bound together by a ring so that cards can be replaced and updated as the program evolves.
Associates can use these materials to help them complete a brief quiz that can be taken at their register. Completing the quizzes each month makes associates eligible for prizes such as an iPad or cruise.
The new wellness+ team training kit sent to all stores.Beyond the marketing and associate education campaigns, Rite Aid also plans to invest in systems improvements for wellness+ that will help associates better communicate with customers who have reached their +UP limit for a certain item and also acquire missing customer information at the registers.
In addition, Vice President of Marketing Craig Riner says Rite Aid is continuing to analyze rewards offered through wellness+ to ensure the benefits structure is meeting the needs of Rite Aid shoppers and patients.
“If the needs of our customers change or we see a benefit that isn’t resonating with wellness+ members, we’ll be aggressive in finding solutions that keep this program relevant and valuable to shoppers while differentiating us in the marketplace.”