Next year, Rite Aid Corp. aims to expand its wellness+ customer loyalty program by delivering new ways to save and more shopper rewards.

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Rite Aid plans to ramp up wellness+ program

December 13th, 2011
Wellness+ has been key in getting customers to shop throughout the store, Rite Aid executives say.

CAMP HILL, Pa. – Next year, Rite Aid Corp. aims to expand its wellness+ customer loyalty program by delivering new ways to save and more shopper rewards.

Rite Aid said Tuesday that on Jan. 1, it will launch Load2Card, a coupon management program that will enable wellness+ members to save, manage and redeem Rite Aid and manufacturer coupons available online via their wellness+ card.

The company noted that it's the first drug store chain to offer the coupon management tool.

Members will be able to load an average of more than $100 in savings directly to their wellness+ card eac week. The coupon savings will automatically be deducted from applicable purchases when customers scan their wellness+ card at checkout. Paper coupons will continue to be accepted as well.

To enable the direct-to-card savings, members need to activate and log in to their online wellness+ account at on or after Jan. 1. Customers without a wellness+ account will be able to create one at that time and use Load2Card immediately.

Also new next year, members will earn a wellness reward of their choice when they reach 500 points. The rewards include a gym membership, a health/fitness magazine subscription or a health screening. All members will receive notification of reward eligibility and redemption details on their register receipt and by e-mail.

Rite Aid said wellness+ members also will see a third tier of savings and rewards in 2012. Adding to the gold and silver wellness+ membership tiers, the retailer has created a bronze tier for members who reach 250 points in a single year.

Bronze tier members will get 10% off all Rite Aid-brand products every day plus a one-time 10% off shopping pass for use in the store. The silver and gold tier point levels will stay the same at 500 and 1,000 points, respectively. At 500 points, silver members receive 10% off all qualifying, nonprescription purchases every day. And gold members, after reaching 1,000 points, get 20% off all qualifying, nonprescription items daily. Rite Aid added that anyone who reaches silver or gold status by the end of 2011 will keep that status throughout 2012.

Wellness+ membership has topped 44 million since the program's launch in 2010.

Everyday benefits for all wellness+ members include +UP Rewards, which print at the bottom of a register receipt and are redeemable like cash toward a future qualifying purchase; members-only sale pricing throughout the store; and exclusive 24x7 access to a Rite Aid pharmacist by calling 1-800-RITE-AID. Members earn points every time they shop at Rite Aid.: one point for every dollar spent on nonprescription items and 25 points for each prescription filled.

"Wellness+ has been a game-changer for Rite Aid. As we grow the program, it's important that we continue to enhance its value to members," Rite Aid chief operating officer Ken Martindale said in a statement. "Through innovative tools and exciting, new wellness rewards, we'll deliver more value than ever before to wellness+ members — our most loyal customers — in the new year."

Wellness+ has grown to more than 44 million members since Rite Aid launched the shopper rewards program it in April 2010. When it was introduced, Rite Aid said the program was the drug store industry's first loyalty program to provide health and wellness benefits along with shopper savings.

In late September, the retailer added wellness+ for diabetes, an adjunct to the wellness+ program that offers exclusive resources and savings to people living with diabetes and their caregivers. The program also has received industry recognition. This past fall wellness+ won the Shopper Technology Institute's 2011 LEADER Award, sponsored by IBM, in the loyalty category, and in February wellness+ was recognized as the nation's top-ranked and most-recommended loyalty program by Zocalo Group, Rite Aid said.

Rite Aid executives have said that wellness+ has been effective in swaying more customers to shop throughout the store.

"One of the things we're seeing with wellness+ is that we're improving the engagement level," Martindale told Chain Drug Review this summer during a tour of the chain's "wellness store" format. "[Customers are] seeing that, 'If I'm a good pharmacy patient, there's a tremendous opportunity for me to save in the front end of the store, so I'd rather shop here than go somewhere else.' One of the key drivers for us is how do we get customers in the front end back to the pharmacy, and the ones that are in the pharmacy out into the front end. Part of that is giving them the products that they need, a good loyalty program that supports them and a layout that is easy for them to shop."

During a conference call in late September on second-quarter results, Rite Aid chief executive officer John Standley cited wellness+ as a revenue and same-store sales catalyst. He also noted that wellness+ members are the retailer's best customers.

"Wellness+ members accounted for 69% of front-end sales and 66% of script count during the quarter," Standley said in the call. "We have continued to increase the amount of gold and silver members that we have in the program, which is important because these customers continue to be our most valuable customers. Similar to last quarter, almost 90% of these members shop both sides of the store, and almost 50% shop our stores every week, which means we are getting good frequency.

"More importantly, gold and silver members continue to have significantly larger basket sizes than nonmembers, with silver members' average basket size being 55% higher and gold members' average basket size being 128% higher," he added. "In the pharmacy, we continue to see a much higher retention rate with members versus nonmembers, and members are a high percentage of our best patients. And our research tells us that wellness+ members are significantly more satisfied with Rite Aid than nonmembers, which is another good measure of how the program is working."

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