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Jewel-Osco offers flu shots, savings on shopping trip

BY Michael Johnsen

ITASCA, Ill. Beginning Monday, customers who get a seasonal flu shot at a Jewel-Osco pharmacy received a special invitation to save a total of 20% on a future grocery shopping trip, the grocer, owned and operated by Supervalu, announced Sept. 14.

“This savings opportunity is our way of showing that it really does pay to take care of your health,” stated Jeff Bregar, manager, integrated clinical services, Jewel-Osco Pharmacy.

This season, Jewel-Osco will offer flu shots at $24.99 by appointment or on a walk-in basis between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., weekdays and weekends. Select 24-hour pharmacy locations can provide flu shots around the clock.

After receiving a seasonal flu shot, customers will receive a 20% discount coupon when they take advantage of any one of the following services that can help jump-start or renew plans for a healthier lifestyle:

  • Transfer or fill a new prescription at Jewel-Osco Pharmacy;
  • Receive another immunization, including the vaccines that can prevent pneumonia, shingles, tetanus or meningitis;
  • Complete a private medication review with a Jewel-Osco pharmacist;
  • Complete JEWEL-OSCO’s Tools for Living Healthy With Diabetes education program; or
  • Receive an in-store health screening for cholesterol, thyroid dysfunction, prostate cancer, blood glucose or A1C.

“While the opportunity for immediate grocery savings can be significant to many of our customers, the long-term benefits of health maintenance and preventative care measures are far greater,” Bregar said. “Good health is priceless.”

In addition to the grocery savings offer, customers will also receive a flu, cough and cold survival kit (while supplies last). The kit, valued at $30, includes free samples, coupons and tips for staying healthy during the upcoming cold and flu season.

The grocery savings opportunity is an extension of Jewel-Osco Pharmacy’s commitment to building healthier communities, one individual at a time.

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Gluten-free takes the cake in snack food products

BY DSN STAFF

The market for gluten-free snacks is exploding. Once the exclusive arena of niche brands, now even mainstream manufacturers are getting on board. This summer, General Mills rolled out a line of gluten-free cookie, brownie and cake mixes under its Betty Crocker brand. In 2006, the company converted its Rice Chex cereal to a gluten-free product.

General Mills research showed that 12% of U.S. households want to eliminate or reduce their gluten intake. Part of the increased interest in gluten-free products is a spike in the number of patients diagnosed with Celiac disease. Incidence of the immune system disorder has increased dramatically in the last half century. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggested that young people today are 4.5 times as likely to have Celiac disease as were young people in the 1950s.

Even consumers without wheat allergies are showing an interest in eliminating or reducing the amount of wheat in their bodies. “We’re seeing a lot more interest from consumers who are opting to reduce their wheat intake,” said Christine Brown, marketing manager at Addison, Ill.-based Natural Snacks.

Kari Ramsey, a spokeswoman for Nature’s Path Foods, agreed that the appeal of gluten-free foods isn’t limited to consumers with Celiac disease. Nature’s Path is one of the largest players in the category—the company’s EnviroKidz line of crispy rice bars and animal cookies has performed well in the grocery channel. “For some people, opting for gluten-free foods is a lifestyle choice rather than a health-motivated choice,” Ramsey said.

Consumers should have no problem finding an array of foods to fit their needs. More than 1,000 new gluten-free products were launched in 2008, according to Mintel Global New Products Database. Another 552 products were introduced through July 20. Cereal bars, snacks and sweets saw the most new product introductions.

Gluten-free cereals are one of the most rapidly growing segments in the health-and-wellness cereal category, according to Kent Spaulding, VP marketing for San Francisco-based Barbara’s Bakery. Spaulding said his company’s gluten-free products are growing at a rate of more than 30% annually.

A recent report from Packaged Facts estimated that gluten-free products had a compound annual growth of 28% between 2004 and 2008, with sales reaching $1.56 billion. Supermarkets accounted for 30% of sales, and health food and specialty stores accounted for another 30% of sales. Drug stores largely have stayed away from the business, but maybe it’s time to rethink the strategy. “Consumers go to a drug store for products that make them feel healthier,” Brown said. Gluten-free snacks certainly fit that profile for a growing number of customers. Natural Snacks’ gluten-free business grew 78% last year, according to Brown.

Natural Snacks, which is expanding its offerings, is adding single-serves of its most popular baked flavors to its lineup. The 100-calorie, .75-oz. bags will retail for 99 cents.

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Pharmacy is the star of new Target ad effort

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS —Talk about pressure. Pharmacy is playing an unfamiliar role in Target’s holiday plans this year, as the retailer is soon expected to begin airing its first ever national advertising campaign to promote pharmacy.

A launch date for the television campaign hasn’t been disclosed, and it seems a little surprising that, prior to now, Target never promoted pharmacy on a national level. And that’s exactly the point the retailer’s EVP merchandising, Kathy Tesija, made during the company’s second-quarter conference call. The TV spots, Tesija said, are part of “an unprecedented integrated marketing campaign to drive even greater awareness for our pharmacy services and convert more Target guests into Target pharmacy guests.”

Target is a major pharmacy retailer, operating more than 1,500 pharmacies in its 1,719 stores nationwide. “These efforts will help contribute to storewide sales growth, as loyal pharmacy guests are some of our best guests in terms of frequency and basket size,” Tesija said.

The challenge for Target is to promote greater awareness of its pharmacy offering and convince a higher percentage of customers who are already shopping its stores for other merchandise to begin having their prescriptions filled there, too. If the ad campaign is successful in generating increased usage among existing customers, in addition to attracting new ones, the anticipated boost in customer traffic and average transaction sizes couldn’t come at a better time.

The company has seen its customer counts and average transaction sizes dwindle this year as shoppers migrated to other retailers they perceived to offer better values, while those who stayed true to Target curtailed their purchases of margin-friendly apparel and home goods. The result was flat or declining same-store sales that have been common at Target for the past 18 months, and to counter the trend, the company has aggressively promoted traffic-generating categories—such as food and consumables, and now pharmacy—while making bold new statements about its low prices in ads and in store.

Such measures are slow to affect the bottom line, though, as Target is essentially attempting to partially unwind consumers’ perception of its pricing, while retaining favorable attributes related to trend-right merchandise presented in well-maintained stores and a pleasant shopping environment.

An effective pharmacy campaign could be an important factor in stopping or reversing Target’s declining sales trends. Sales decreased 2.7% in the second quarter to $14.6 billion from $15 billion, but same-store sales declined 6.2%. Extensive cost cutting enabled Target to produce earnings per share of 79 cents, surpassing analysts’ estimates of 66 cents, but net income of $594 million was still well below the prior year’s $634 million.

“Second-quarter earnings were stronger than expected owing to very strong operating margin in our retail segment and credit card segment performance in line with expectations,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO. “Looking forward to the second half of the year, we are focused on initiatives to drive incremental traffic and sales in our stores.” Pharmacy is such an initiative.

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