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Walgreens weeks away from entering the loyalty program market with Balance Rewards

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Details of Walgreens’ new loyalty card — Balance Rewards — that’s debuting next month were revealed in a New York Times report published Friday.

Leading that effort is Graham Atkinson, who joined Walgreens in 2011 from his position of president United Airlines Mileage Plus.

The card makes its official debut Sept. 16, though Walgreens will be encouraging first-adopters to sign on earlier in September for a chance to win 10 million rewards points, the report noted.

Shoppers across the pharmacy and front end will be able to accrue points. But the loyalty program will also reward healthy behaviors by granting points to participants of Walk with Walgreens, for example. Loyalty card members will be able to cash in 5,000 points for $5 to use in store or online. The point-reward system is accelerated as more points are accrued — 40,000 points will earn $50, for example.

For the full report, click here.

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Shopping in Olympic proportion

BY Dave Wendland

This year’s Olympics coverage on NBC stood in stark contrast to the television network’s failed attempt to offer expanded audience choice through their pay-per-view “Triplecast” in 1992. Remember that 20 years ago, NBC aired the Olympics through three pay-per-view channels? Their total number of subscribers, either for a one-day pass or any of the “gold,” “silver” or “bronze” packages probably couldn’t equal even the smallest service area for a major cable company.

This year, NBC had an Olympics multicast – and viewers didn’t have to pay a single dime to catch a single dive. It reminded me of today’s shopping trends and the countless choices shoppers now have.

The days of single-channel shopping are waning. In fact, a recent report released by Kline & Company – OTC Retailing: U.S. Alternate Channel Analyses and Opportunities – points to the sharp growth in non-traditional channels, including online, convenience stores, dollar stores and warehouse clubs. The report cites significantly faster growth in alternative retail formats that now account for about 15% of category sales.

Gone are the days when loyalty is assumed. Gaining consumer loyalty now requires something from retailers beyond simply having product available. The trick for traditional channels may be reminding shoppers that there is a difference between retail options. Shelf assortment and arrangement, availability of a healthcare professional and reliable, trusted supply chain logistics are important differentiators.

I have observed Olympic-scale efforts by retailers who have recognized that providing an enriched shopping experience and a point of difference can positively affect their business operation. I’d love to hear your thoughts on who you think is putting forth a gold-winning performance. What are they doing that will foster continued customer loyalty?


Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at Hamacher.com.

MORE ARTICLES FROM DAVE WENDLAND >

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FDA approves Watson pain patch

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic medicated patch for treating pain made by Watson Pharmaceuticals, the company said.

Watson announced the approval of lidocaine topical patch in the 5% strength. The drug is a generic version of Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Lidoderm, which had sales of about $1.2 billion during the 12-month period ended in June 2012, according to IMS Health.

Watson said it plans to launch the drug in September 2013 under an agreement with Endo and Teikoku Seiyaku Co. and, as the presumed first company to successfully file for FDA approval, will likely receive 180 days of market exclusivity in which to compete directly with the branded version.


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