PHARMACY

CVS/pharmacy launches Spanish-language website

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy is taking a greater step toward targeting the Hispanic market with the launch of its new Spanish-language website.

Like the English-language site, the Spanish version, located at http://es.cvs.com, enables shoppers to manage their prescription account, get health information, purchase products and access coupons. According to a MediaPost article, Google indicated that the new CVS Spanish website consists of 67,000 pages, most of which are product SKUs.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, CVS is working to take its digital program to new heights in the coming years. This move is clearly in line with that initiative, and represents a great opportunity for CVS to further reach its Hispanic shoppers.

In fact, a digital marketing study, conducted by ComScore and commissioned by Terra, revealed that Hispanics are the ideal online consumers and also reaffirmed that the Internet is the main media source of information for Hispanics when are researching information about any service or product. It is estimated that about 30 million Hispanics are online, or 60% of the population.

Furthermore, the study findings, released in January 2011, revealed that, if spoken to and reached with culturally relevant messaging in English and Spanish, Hispanics will react positively to brands online more so than non-Hispanics. In other words, Hispanics seem to be appreciative of the brands that are trying to reach out to them. That certainly represents a significant opportunity for marketers.

According to MediaPost, CVS currently is the third-most popular pharmacy site among Hispanics who use the Internet bilingually or primarily in Spanish, with just under 150,000 monthly visitors.

The MediaPost article also states that, with the launch of the new Spanish-language site, CVS is attempting to do something that only one other retailer — Best Buy — has been able to do: launch and support a robust Spanish-language e-commerce site in the long run.

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GSK commences tender offer of Human Genome Sciences

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON — GlaxoSmithKline is moving forward with its acquisition of Human Genome Sciences.

The drug maker said Thursday that it has commenced its previously announced tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Human Genome Sciences for $13.00 per share in cash, a premium of 81% to HGS’s closing share price of $7.17 per share on April 18, the last trading day before HGS publicly disclosed GSK’s private offer.

The closing of the tender offer is subject to the terms and conditions detailed in the offer document. The tender offer and withdrawal rights are scheduled to expire at 12:00 a.m. EST on June 7 unless the offer is extended.

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Could pet meds be the new flu shots?

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The past two weeks have seen two new additions to the list of retailers selling prescription drugs for pets, showing that this space, while still small, is growing in importance and offers a good way for retailers to drive customer traffic.

(THE NEWS: Kmart and Kerr Drug launch pet med programs. Click here and here to read the stories.)

As Drug Store News reported in its April 23 Annual Report issue, two key trends are converging to make drugs for animals an increasingly important component of the prescription drug category, to say nothing of OTC products.

First, there’s a growth in pet ownership, driven by younger people putting off having children and older people becoming empty nesters and looking for "fur kids" to replace the human ones who have moved out. Second, like their human owners, pets are living longer and becoming more susceptible to chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

At the moment, the pet drug category is dominated by veterinarian offices, which have traditionally been able to buy animal-specific drugs directly from manufacturers, while retailers have to go through distributors and thus pay extra, though many human drugs dispensed at lower doses can be used in animals as well. But even if, for the time being, retailers can’t guarantee the lower prices that vets can, they can offer convenience. Offering pet meds in a retail pharmacy allows customers to pick up all their drugs at once, and the fact that many retailers launching pet med programs are also hiring vets who can answer customers’ questions only adds to the convenience.

Another thing that might help is a bill going through Congress, H.R. 1406, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011, which would require vets to allow pet owners to have prescriptions filled anywhere instead of making them obtain drugs at the office.

According to Packaged Facts, sales of pet medications through online and brick-and-mortar retailers and veterinarian offices reached $6.7 billion in 2011. That’s not a huge number compared with, say, the annual sales of a single blockbuster human drug, but analysts think pet meds could be a way to bring more customers into stores, whether or not they make a lot of money in and of themselves, thus benefitting retailers in the same way that vaccinations do.

And the retailers that offer pet meds — ranging from national chains to independent pharmacies — have reiterated variations of the same point: One’s family comprises more than just its bipedal members.

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