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Rite Aid partners in coalition loyalty program

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New Plenti card said to be the first of its kind in the U.S.

NEW YORK — Rite Aid Corp. is the exclusive drug store partner in what’s being called the first U.S.-based coalition loyalty program.

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Rite Aid will issue wellness+ members wanting to join the new program a co-branded Plenti card.

Named Plenti, the program will enable consumers to earn and use points for purchases at all of the participating companies, regardless of the payment method.

Along with Rite Aid, Plenti’s inaugural partners include American Express, which will operate the program, and Macy’s, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Nationwide, Direct Energy and Hulu. Each of the partners will the exclusive provider in their business segment.

Announced on Wednesday, the free Plenti program is slated to be launched in May, rolling out to more than 25,000 retail locations overall.

At Rite Aid, Plenti will be integrated with the drug chain’s free wellness+ customer loyalty program. Current members will be asked to re-enroll to receive Plenti’s benefits along with their existing wellness+ rewards, said John Learish, senior vice president of marketing. Wellness+ members opting into Plenti will get a co-branded card and continue to receive their wellness+ benefits, he said, adding that Rite Aid’s promotional +Up Rewards in wellness+ will be converted to Plenti points.

“We have 25 million active members in wellness+ today, and it captures almost 80% of our business. The reason we have that kind of engagement is because it has such a rich reward program and high value to customers,” Learish explained. “What we said was, ‘How can we add more value going forward?’ Plenti is a natural evolution for us. The ability for us to provide the additional benefit of allowing customers to earn and use points not just at Rite Aid but also at all of these other great Plenti partners is an added value.”

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Rite Aid’s John Learish: “We will have the opportunity to introduce the Rite Aid brand to our partners’ customers that might not be shopping in Rite Aid today.”

Once Plenti launches, the points that wellness+ members now earn via health, beauty, wellness, pharmacy and other purchases at Rite Aid will earn them Plenti points that can be applied to savings or purchases at the other Plenti partners.

For example, consumers buying gas at a participating Exxon or Mobil station could use the points for savings on a pair of shoes at Macy’s. Likewise, consumers can earn Plenti points by signing up for wireless services at AT&T, or for eligible charges on AT&T wireless bills, as well as for Nationwide auto or property insurance.

Learish said Rite Aid plans a major multimedia and in-store marketing campaign for Plenti, including on-shelf and online promotional vehicles.

“We will have the opportunity to introduce the Rite Aid brand to our partners’ customers that might not be shopping in Rite Aid today,” Learish said. “So all of the partners will benefit by being able to bring new business into their stores.”

Consumers can enroll in Plenti through any of the participating companies or at Plenti.com. One point equals at least one cent; thus, 1,000 points will translate to at least $10 in savings. The points earned in Plenti are active for two years. Plenti members will be able to earn points faster by activating special promotional offers across participating brands or through Plenti’s online offer center and online marketplace.

Plenti will enable consumers to replace multiple loyalty cards — especially those on their overloaded keychains — with a single card while offering the flexibility of earning and using points for savings at more than one retailer, noted Abeer Bhatia, executive vice president and chief executive officer of American Express’ U.S. Loyalty division, which is managing the Plenti program.

“For the customer, it provides simplicity, flexibility and convenience. And the program is free,” Bhatia said. “From a retailer perspective, they’re giving consumers something they want, increasing their loyalty and, hopefully, encouraging consumers to engage more with them and shop with them.”

American Express cited research, conducted last fall by Ebiquity, finding that 72% of Americans said they would prefer a rewards program that lets them shop at many stores. Bhatia said Plenti will add more partners going forward.

Michael Gore, who oversees global card and loyalty programs for ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing Co., said Plenti differentiates the merchants’ brands while rewarding their customers for purchases they make regularly, such as filling up or getting car washes at Exxon or Mobil fuel stations or buying items at the stations’ convenience stores.

“We have a very frequent purchase; people come to see us three to four times per month. We want to set ourselves apart from competition. The way you do that is by putting together a coalition of different merchants, with each exclusive in their industry,” Gore said. “It’s great for consumers. As they go through their day and buy coffee, pay their energy bill or go to Macy’s, they can earn and redeem points along the way. It’s a great offer, and we think it will drive consumer behavior.”

American Express U.S. Loyalty will issue the Plenti rewards and oversee the program’s central marketing activities in tandem with the founding companies. In addition, U.S. Loyalty will be responsible for securely managing consumer data collected via Plenti.


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