Rite Aid Answers Questions to Build Loyalty

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May 08, 2006
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By John Hennessy, Vice President, Concept Shopping, Inc.
(www.conceptshopping.com)

Rite aid launched a program in April to help its customers understand and avoid uncomfortable allergy symptoms.

The program, which Rite Aid worked on with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), includes an eleven-page guide with recommendations over-the counter (OTC) allergy remedies for specific symptoms. The guide suggests questions to ask doctors, provides advice on allergy prevention for children and gives tips for allergy proofing your home. Every Rite Aid is also offering a free magnetic allergy tip and coupon book. The book is full of allergy tips and includes savings on items for allergy relief.

“Rite Aid is committed to offering programs and services to help our customers stay healthy and to educate them on solutions for everyday health and wellness issues,” said John Learish, senior vice president of marketing. “At Rite Aid, our pharmacists are personally involved in finding healthy solutions for our patients, offering advice, recommendations and answers for health concerns.”

The allergy symptoms program is part of a yearlong effort by Rite Aid to educate consumers on critical health and wellness issues such as diabetes, vitamins and nutrition, heart
health, weight management and skin care.


Moderator’s Comment: Where else can retailers provide education to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions? Do most consumers appreciate retailer
efforts to provide education and does this translate into greater satisfaction with a given store, i.e. building shopping loyalty for that business?


Rite Aid has a solid initiative here. They are helping shoppers and selling more in the process. It’s a combination worth repeating.


Another retail opportunity identified by many is in the area of organic foods, health and beauty care, etc. Organics are a growing segment and information
provided by a store can be used to accelerate that growth and position the retailer as a knowledgeable source on the issue.


Shoppers are busy. Not all have taken the time to educate themselves on the merits of organics. Many are not clear on why they should choose to pay a premium
for organic products.


A program of education in partnership with an expert source of nutritional information would help improve the rate of adoption of organic products. Some
introductory coupons to encourage trial provide the final nudge needed to move consumers into the world of organics.

John Hennessy – Moderator


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7 Comments on "Rite Aid Answers Questions to Build Loyalty"


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Bernie Slome
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Bernie Slome
14 years 9 months ago

Rite Aid is approaching the consumer in a way that should build loyalty. In the days before large chain drug stores, there was a bond between the pharmacist and the customer. By helping the customer, by assisting in directing the questions that need to be asked, by working with the customer, Rite Aid’s pharmacists are building a bond the “old-fashioned” way. Many drug store chains saw the positive impact when the Medicare Part D was first being marketed. The pharmacist became an important component in the decision making process of the seniors when they were evaluating Medicare Part D programs.

All drug store chains are looking at how they can involve the pharmacist more directly in the sales process. Rite Aid has created an innovative way to help. The byproduct is increased sales and greater loyalty.

Ian Percy
Guest
14 years 9 months ago
The most important sentence in this piece is this one: “They are helping shoppers and selling more in the process. It’s a combination worth repeating.” We don’t need to show ‘proof of concept’ for this idea – it shouldn’t even be a survey question. It just makes stunning common sense. And where else can retailers help the customer make educated decisions? Everywhere. Unfortunately so many floor staff do little else than point people to things, re-fold apparel or clean up in aisle 3. Ask a typical clothing salesperson what the difference is between a $200 suit and a $700 one when they’re both made from 100% wool by the same manufacturer and see if you get more than “it’s better quality.” Ask a staffer in a pet store which chew bones don’t have sugar and you might as well go have lunch while waiting for your answer. Product knowledge produces sales. Low sales will often point to low knowledge. Three things give us credibility in the eyes of those we want to impress or persuade:… Read more »
Elizabeth Bennett
Guest
Elizabeth Bennett
14 years 9 months ago

Yes, Rite Aid is right on. We are still in the information age. Call it value-added sales or whatever you want. The educated consumer is still wanting that reassurance that they are making the right decision. As long as the information is written well and makes sense, the consumer will value it and in Rite Aid’s case, will improve loyalty.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Many retailers believe that advertising is “customer education.” Anyone picking up a prescription gets a computer-generated booklet listing possible side effects and other related boilerplate. Customers know the difference between education and advertising. The former is very rare. The latter is usually just noise. Instead of printing booklets that usually get thrown away, would it make sense to give people coupons to see an allergist? It’s true that you can’t “reach” as many people with the same budget, but if 99% of the booklets are just trashed, wouldn’t it pay to run a pilot and see what happens? It would be really interesting if those allergist visits’ prescriptions were tracked. The promotion (after similar supplier subsidies) might break even.

Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
14 years 9 months ago

This is a logical and important step for retailers to “connect” with their shoppers and “differentiate” to establish a stronger bond of shopper loyalty. Considering how many consumers do not have health care coverage in this country, and how many more will have to turn to self wellness management as a result of a combination of factors like pension and retirement medical coverage loss, we will see a greater dependence by shoppers on alternative sources for medical consultation. What better place than Rite Aid, where there is already a mental connection of health management consultation by the pharmacist to the consumers who already turn to them for prescription advice.

Tom McGoldrick
Guest
Tom McGoldrick
14 years 9 months ago

Every business can benefit from teaching their customers how they can best use their products and services. The other discussion today (grocery stores promoting home meals) is another good example of this.

Oddly, given — or because of — the over abundance of food in the US, I can think of few things most consumers spend more time thinking about than food. Teaching customers how to be healthier, and save money through proper use of medication and food should be a key focuses of every retail-marketing person.

Steve Anderson
Guest
Steve Anderson
14 years 9 months ago

For older customers, particularly those who have developed individual relationships with pharmacists, I would say the answer is “yes.” However, many younger customers end up doing research on their own before shopping on price, particularly as third-party payers and traditional in-store pharmacists play a smaller role in the emerging health care system of the 21st century.

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