Rite Aid ups ante with loyalty plan

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NEW YORK — Rite Aid Corp. expects the enhanced version of its wellness+ loyalty program, called wellness+ with Plenti, to bring new customers into its stores.

Craig Riner (left) and John Learish of Rite Aid

Craig Riner (left) and John Learish of Rite Aid at the Plenti launch in Manhattan.

“What Plenti does is give us the ability to really drive new customer acquisition,” Rite Aid senior vice president of marketing John Learish said earlier this month.

Learish and vice president of marketing Craig Riner were on hand in Manhattan on May 6 for the official consumer launch of Plenti, the loyalty program of which the drug chain is a founding partner.

Plenti, which is run by American Express’ US Loyalty division, is described as the first coalition loyalty program that allows consumers to earn points for shopping with one participating retailer or brand and then spend those points with another.

The other members of the Plenti coalition are AT&T, Exxon, Macy’s, Mobil, Nationwide, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hulu and American Express. Each is the exclusive partner in its business segment.

“We’re estimating that 70 million members are going to join Plenti in the first year through its partners,” Learish said. “So we’re going to be able to reach a lot of shoppers that aren’t shopping Rite Aid today and might not be familiar with us.”

Learish noted that the Plenti launch comes five years after the May 2010 launch of wellness+, which now has over 25 million active members and captures about 80% of Rite Aid’s business.

“It’s something that we have been committed to evolving and improving over time, and we’ve put a lot of enhancements into the market,” Learish said.

The wellness+ with Plenti loyalty program will allow participating Rite Aid customers to use one loyalty card to simultaneously earn two kinds of points. Members will still earn wellness+ points, which can be used for store discounts, special sales and extended access to pharmacists. They will also earn Plenti points, which can be used for savings at Rite Aid or at other Plenti partners. A Plenti point earned at Rite Aid is worth at least one cent, so 1,000 such points translate into $10 in savings.

Those Plenti points also might serve as a differentiator that convinces customers to shop at Rite Aid.

“At every drug store corner, they could turn left or right,” Riner said. “This will provide a more meaningful value proposition that could turn customers right into our stores instead of left into our competitors’.”

Riner said Plenti’s current mix of blue-chip, complementary merchant partners is part of its strong appeal, and there is “an aggressive effort to grow the coalition partnership.”

“As we continue to grow the appeal and power of the program, the more partners that we can bring into the mix that are in different sectors and different categories and that enable meaningful, everyday interactions for our customers, the more it will benefit everybody,” he explained.

Rite Aid plans to support wellness+ with Penti with a national television, radio, circular and digital advertising campaign, including social media. Other coalition partners will also promote the program; the collective marketing spend is expected to top $3 billion.

Plenti will also provide Rite Aid with new customer data.

“For the first time, we’ll actually be able to get better insight into what our customers are doing outside of our stores or outside of our channels,” Riner explained. “We’ll be able to look at customers in aggregate and target customers that have different buying behaviors at different partners and, through Plenti, target them in ways we couldn’t before. It really creates a more holistic picture of our customer.”



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