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Walgreens-USA Drug deal: Narrow networks making local marketshare battles key

BY DSN STAFF

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Narrow networks. They’re all the rage. If nothing else, narrow pharmacy benefit management networks emphasize local; and one analysis thread common among all the pundits discussing Walgreens’ recent acquisition of USA Drug is that Walgreens just got a whole lot more local across the Southeast. There’s a saying in the Southeast: "He who wants milk should not sit himself in the middle of a pasture waiting for a cow to back up to him." This proposed USA Drug acquisition is proof that Walgreens is by no means out to pasture, and with this acquisition they just became that much more relevant to southeastern employers considering the virtues of those narrow networks.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens to acquire mid-South drug store chain. For the full story, click here.)

The Walgreens/USA Drug deal is an important fill-in acquisition made all the more relevant by that trend toward narrow that the Wall Street Journal highlighted just last week (for that story, click here.) "Local market share growth provides incremental bargaining power against pharmacy benefit managers and payers," noted industry consultant Adam Fein in his latest DrugChannels blog. "Walgreens’ market share is already above 40% in such major cities as Chicago, Houston, Miami, San Francisco, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. The Southeast, where USA Drugs is strongest, fills an important map gap. Express Scripts was able to drop Walgreens from it network while still meeting access requirements, but it gets harder as the chain spreads."

And that begs the question: Are more regional-chain buyouts to come? So far, the general consensus is "You betcha!," at least according to a Drug Store News online reader poll posted last week. So far 81% (out of the 93 voters) feel that more regional chain buyouts are on the horizon. And it’s not just because of the narrow networks, necessarily. There also are mounting margin pressures and relatively no growth in the number of prescriptions dispensed nationwide that are making regional acquisitions very attractive. "Buying share is cheaper than taking it," Fein noted in his blog.

In addition, regional operators eyeing their golden years may be primed to sell. "Sadly, the age of entrepreneurial family-owned small chains is passing and if the price is attractive enough most will take the money and call it a day," suggested Jay Forbes, president of the Forbes Connection.

What do you think? Join the conversation and vote here.

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Revlon launches major digital platform to encourage makeup experimentation

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Revlon announced on Monday the launch of the Revlon Expression Experiment, a digital engagement platform designed to spark a social movement of makeup experimentation.

The Expression Experiment celebrates the essence of the Revlon brand, engaging consumers in a modern and current way. Housed on an interactive Facebook hub, the new platform will provide women with monthly challenges — beginning with a "Red Lipstick Challenge." To support participants during those challenges, Revlon will post inspirational videos, including some created by female college filmmakers, as well as how-to video tutorials with celebrity makeup artist and Revlon global artistic director Gucci Westman, weekly makeup application tips, photos and product recommendations.

Each time a challenge is completed, participants will be able to share their experience on both the Revlon Expression Experiment Facebook hub, as well as their personal Facebook page, and invite friends to join them in the next challenge.

Westman will be a frequent contributor of content to the Expression Experiment hub and Revlon global brand ambassador Halle Berry is featured in the platform’s introductory video.

“Inspiring expressive women and daring them to step out of their comfort zone have always been at the heart of our brand,” Revlon global chief marketing officer Julia Goldin said. “Through extensive consumer research and insight, we’ve learned that while women around the world are interested in innovative products, they are hesitant and need inspiration to express their inner selves. Whether it’s venturing into the world of bold lipstick or trying this season’s trendiest nail art designs, women need to be challenged to take a chance with their beauty routine and try something different. The Revlon Expression Experiment does just that.”

The launch of the new platform will be supported by digital display advertising, as well as Revlon Twitter, Facebook and YouTube promotions. An army of beauty influencers, who received advance invitations to join the Expression Experiment, will also post sponsored content on their blogs about the makeup challenges throughout the first four months of its rollout.

Over the next year, Revlon will expand its Expression Experiment across the world, including Canada, Mexico, Australia and India.

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Duane Reade debuts new, unique store at 100 Broadway

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Manhattan-based retailer Duane Reade is expanding its footprint with a second distinct location in the historic American Surety building in the city’s Financial District.

The new 22,000-sq.-ft. Duane Reade store (at the corner of Broadway and Pine) further develops the retailer’s “Up market” store concept. The 24-hour store, with the grand opening on July 9, features such exclusive offerings and amenities as Up market: Chop and an in-store museum quality exhibit; a first for Duane Reade or any other U.S.-based drug store.

"The concept-forward store design fits the rich innovative structural history of 100 Broadway while incorporating the best ideas of Duane Reade and Walgreens partnering to create a truly unique store experience," Duane Reade senior director of store concepts Michael De Fazio said. "Intricate salad creations have become the main course for many health conscious, on-the-go New Yorkers. As part of the Walgreens family of companies, Duane Reade is reinforcing its highly recognizable, urban-localized brand with the opening of this store; simply put, it’s New York Living Made Easy."

The new Up market: Chop is a gourmet salad bar concept with a choice of greens, artisanal cheeses, 30 additional toppings and an array of dressing options.

Other new offerings include Up market: Cafe and Good & Delish self-serve hot soups. Up market: Cafe employs a full-time barista. Coffee drinkers can buy freshly brewed drinks such as hot and iced coffee, as well as such specialty brews as mocha, espresso and cappuccino. Meanwhile, Good & Delish self-serve soups represent a quick, inexpensive snack solution with many options made fresh daily. There are eight homemade-like flavors on the menu, such as chicken noodle, split pea with turkey bacon, wild mushroom barley, cream of broccoli and coconut curry chicken, to name a few.

Popular offerings first introduced at Duane Reade’s 40 Wall Street flagship also are integrated throughout the 100 Broadway store. These include: Up market: Juice, where customers can create their own fresh juice or smoothies; and a chef-manned Up market: Sushi station, featuring fresh, custom-ordered sushi, sashimi and traditional sides.

Other offerings also include the Up market: Fro-Yo station that features eight varieties of frozen yogurt and four twists with an abundance of topping options. An Up market: Freezee station rounds out the frosty options with four flavors available daily.

The in-store museum-like exhibit pays homage to the neighborhood and hallowed grounds of downtown Manhattan by encompassing a unique display of world-changing events in U.S. history that have been celebrated down historic Broadway. These include game-changers like the 1960 John F. Kennedy election, the 1946 Winston Churchill era and the 1969 moonwalk.

The pharmacy services, “Powered by Walgreens Pharmacy Network” is enhanced with a revolutionary approach to pharmacist accessibility. Unlike traditional behind-the-counter service, the new concept enhances customer experience as pharmacists are placed out front and now actively engage customers, becoming approachable and available to all patients seeking consultation.

"This new strategy is a step forward in leveraging the vast knowledge of our pharmacists and making their expertise more accessible to the customer," added Anthony Riso, senior director of pharmacy operations at Duane Reade. "The Walgreens family pharmacists are highly trained professionals who are well-positioned to coach customers in finding the appropriate medications and providing direction on how to take medication. They also can offer guidance on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. 100 Broadway will be equipped with a private consultation room and Express Rx kiosks allowing customers to quickly pick up refills and pay."

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