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Walgreens taps key blog influencers to promote mobile app functionality

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill.  — Walgreens recently unveiled a three-pronged strategy to better engage its customers and patients through digital, including the marketing of user-generated content through hyper-local news outlets (both print and digital) and amplifying that original content through additional VIPs and social boosting.

And the results have been promising, Walgreens shared with Drug Store News.

"We activated existing Walgreens 'VIP' Ambassadors – top tier influencers that are proven digital storytellers, producers of high-quality content and have a history as a Walgreens advocate," Calvin Peters, PR and digital communications manager for Walgreens, told Drug Store News. "These influencers have been repeatedly vetted via Walgreens corporate and vendor-activated influencer marketing campaigns," he said, noting that the VIPs are vetted both by relevancy and an audience reach of at least 10,000 and upward of 100,000.

"For this program, we partnered with some of our top VIP influencers to brainstorm content angles which would support the brand narratives while ensuring the influencers could each stay true to their own personal stories," Peters said. For example, Danielle Gray, a New York City-based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert with degrees from Hofstra University and the Fashion Institute of Technology recently blogged about the convenience of printing photos directly from her phone on her return from a Stockholm trip this summer.

Janise Burrafato of Mama in Heels recently shared her experience on how to save money using the Walgreens app in getting her sons ready for the new school year. And Katie Manwaring included the Walgreens mobile app in a round-up of "Life Hacks to Save Time and Money."

Highlighting their personal experiences via #MyWalgreensApp, these Walgreens VIP influencers set out to create a series of timely, audience-relevant narratives illustrating the power and convenience of the Walgreens mobile app across key focus areas, in this case, photo, couponing and mobile pay, Peters said.

"Our omni-channel strategy reflects our company’s commitment to our customers," Peters said. "We make feeling good easier with a focus on simplicity, providing customers choice and continuously redefining convenience."

 

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Costco expands Rx90 program

BY Brian Berk

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco and EnvisionRx, the pharmacy benefit management division of EnvisionRxOptions, have partnered to expand Rx90, intended to improve care and reduce costs for people with chronic conditions.

According to Costco, participation in the Rx90 program adds to the nation’s largest 90-day maintenance medication network. For the same price, consumers have the option to fill their prescriptions at any of the nearly 500 Costco U.S. locations, via home delivery through EnvisionPharmacies’ mail service, or at any of the thousands of other participating Rx90 pharmacies nationwide. 

“Getting patients to change their behavior isn’t easy. A successful strategy needs to address all of the reasons that cause members to be non-adherent to their care plans,” said EnvisionRxOptions President Dawn Sherman.

In addition to convenient pharmacy choices and lower cost drugs, Rx90 is intended to help change patient behaviors by:

Integrating clinical support from pharmacists and EnvisionRx;

Providing targeted, disease-specific communications; and

Reducing copays to provide most members with up to 30 days of free coverage.

“We analyze each plan sponsor’s membership and, based on their own plan data, we provide recommendations,” said Sherman. “One of the benefits of working with Envision is that we give them options to customize their program, based on their specific needs: geographic location, business goals, or member profiles. Our average Rx90 client saves between 2%-7% on annual drug spending.”

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Fred’s receives funding to purchase additional Rite Aid stores

BY Brian Berk

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Pharmacy received a $75 million increase in its revolving loan commitment from $150 million to $225 million. As part of Fred’s revolving loan credit agreement with Regions Bank and Bank of America, up to $15 million of borrowings under the revolving loan facility may be used to purchase up to 10 Rite Aid divested stores should the Walgreens Boots Alliance acquisition of Rite Aid be approved.

Revolving credit is typically a type of credit that does not have a fixed number of payments. Corporate revolving credit facilities are often used to provide liquidity for a company's day-to-day operations. It is generally an arrangement which allows for the loan amount to be withdrawn, repaid, and redrawn again in any manner and any number of times, until the arrangement expires.

Memphis-based Fred’s filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing the revolving loan commitment increase. The filing represents a third amendment to the agreement dated April 19, 2015.

Fred's was initially expected to acquire 865 divested Rite Aid stores if the merger agreement is approved. However, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission could now require that more than 1,000 stores be divested in order to give its stamp of approval on the transaction. 

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