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WebMD Health and Walgreens partnership underscores retail pharmacy as healthcare information depot

BY Michael Johnsen

Two iconic health brands were brought together last week with the partnership between WebMD Health and Walgreens. The deal couples the online go-to source for healthcare information with one of the retail pharmacy leaders in advancing the scope of practice across the back bench. The deal also underscores the industry trend toward making healthcare coaching readily available at the pharmacy counter by combining WebMD's digital engagement tools with on-hand assistance from Walgreens' pharmacists and nurse practitioners. 

 
The offering is reminiscent of Rite Aid's Health Alliance program, where specially trained health coaches are on hand to assist patients with chronic and polychronic conditions. (Rite Aid most recently signed a sixth partnership under its Health Alliance umbrella with Physician Direct ACO of Detroit.) 
 
In announcing its year-end performance last week, Walgreens identified patients with chronic conditions and the consumerization of health care as two key tailwinds that will help drive retail performance through next year. Creating a healthcare information platform that Walgreens' patients are incentivized to engage will help capitalize on both of those trends. "With our suite of healthcare services and team of professionals in our communities, with our approach to omnichannel access and the strength of our loyalty program … we are positioned well to serve the needs of a changing customer and industry," Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO told analysts. 
 
The respective audience Walgreens and WebMD brings to the other is quite significant. Walgreens just closed a year in which its retail pharmacy market share grew 30 basis points to 19% and in which the company filled a record 856 million prescriptions. 
 
And according to WebMD CEO David Schlanger, traffic to the WebMD Health Network reached an average of 179.4 million unique users per month, generating 3.5 billion pages for the company's second quarter and increases of 43% and 31% respectively from the prior year. "To put the scale of our online audience into perspective, according to the most recent comScore report, WebMD Health Network is No. 27 of the Top 100 Web properties across all categories and verticals. Within the health information category in the second quarter, WebMD continues to lead the category with total U.S. monthly visitors across both mobile and desktop on a de-duplicated basis [with] approximately 63 million [and] the WebMD Health Network is No. 1 in the health information category for U.S. PC reach, No. 1 among U.S. mobile health destination and No. 1 in every one of the 50 largest condition suffering population online," he said. "In any given month, approximately 40% to 50% of all consumers coming to WebMD are engaging in our wellness and lifestyle content in areas which including eating well, healthy beauty, pregnancy and parenting."
 
And just as Walgreens is an omnichannel destination that engages its customers on the platform of their choosing, WebMD is readily accessed from a multitude of devices. During the second quarter approximately 29% of the company's page view traffic was from desktop, 36% was from a smartphone and 8% was from a tablet device. The remaining 27% was international traffic.
 

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Study: Digital, personalized ads fuel in-store sales of CPG

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO — Locally relevant and personalized ads move shoppers from their screens into store aisles. That’s according to the findings of a recent study by G/O Digital, a provider of local, integrated digital marketing solutions.

In its latest study, “CPG Marketing Reinvented,” G/O Digital surveyed 1,000 online and mobile users in the United States. The findings highlight how personalized content and localized digital activation must be a priority for CPG brands looking to create fluid cross-screen engagement with consumers to influence in-store sales.

Furthermore, the study found that circulars are not an extinct form of advertising, but instead must be recast as an important component to the content marketing discussion. Locally relevant and personalized ads move shoppers from their screens into store aisles. In fact, 79% of moms and 75% of dads are more likely to make in-store purchases when digital circulars present locally relevant and personalized deals.

"The modern-day shopper switches between screens as much as 21 times per hour and is barraged by an influx of experiences, emails, ads, coupons and offers across both traditional and digital channels," stated Jeff Fagel, CMO of G/O Digital. "Because of these circumstances, CPG brand success rests heavily on three critical variables: personalized distribution of promotional content, approaching mobile as a behavior (not a channel) and real-time localized digital activation at national scale. In turn, brand marketers must provide locally relevant, contextually targeted content and advertising that are native to the user experience. If they don't, consumers will quickly move on to competitors who do."

Additional key findings from the report include:
•    Deal content distributed across digital channels flexes more direct marketing muscle than TV ads: Digital circulars rank as the No. 1 form of advertising to influence moms (32%) and dads (29%) to buy food and beverage items in-store. Yet, TV advertising only influences the in-store purchase decisions of 6% of moms and 13% of dads.
•    Mobile deals and in-app promotions bring the Web in-store: When asked about the value of digital promotions and circulars while standing in-store, 19% of moms replied that "it's very important … I regularly check websites, mobile sites and apps for brand/product-specific promotions and deals" and another 36% of moms believe "It's somewhat important … I am more likely to purchase an item in-store if I find a coupon or deal online."
•    The future of retail will be played out in the digital pre-shopping funnel as webrooming helps parents track down deals: When asked if they use their desktop/laptop computer, smartphone or tablet to pre-search for "on sale" food/beverage items, 40% of moms responded "Yes, this is the first thing I do."
•    Low prices trump loyalty to preferred stores: When asked if online/mobile searches for "on sale" items influence which supermarket they visit, 60% of moms and 50% of dads answered "Absolutely, I would be very inclined to visit a local supermarket that offers/advertises the lowest prices and special deals."
•    Facebook trounces Twitter as king of social: 55% of moms and 47% of dads believe Facebook is the most useful social media channel to engage with CPG brands. Conversely, only 5% of moms and 7% of dads find Twitter useful.
•    Local Facebook offers are in high demand: 77% of moms and 72% of dads believe localized deals/offers on Facebook are important enough to affect the food/beverage items they drop into their grocery shopping carts.
•    One-size-fits-all online and mobile ads will deplete in-store sales: When asked what is most frustrating about online and mobile ads from food/beverage brands, 35% of moms and 29% of dads cited "information and promotions that are not locally relevant to products/prices in-store."

This study was fielded from July 2, 2014 through July 9, 2014 and garnered a total of 1,000 responses from online and mobile users in the United States aged 30-to-50 years old, who are interested in grocery shopping, have at least one child and own at least one desktop/laptop computer and a smartphone or tablet.
 

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Share your memorable pharmacist moment

BY Ryan Chavis

NEW YORK — If we learned one thing from the global pharmacists tweet-a-thon, it's that the role of pharmacists in advancing health and wellness can't be understated. From administering flu shots to medication adherence and beyond, pharmacists are proven healthcare rock stars. 
 
In celebration of all that they do, October is designated as American Pharmacists Month. Drug Store News wants to hear from you! Have you had a pharmacist that went above and beyond to help? Sound off in the comment section below. 
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