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Harris Poll: Last flu season ‘fairly typical’ in terms of who got flu shots and who got the flu

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Last winter’s flu season was fairly typical of other winters over the last decade, with the prevalence of the flu and the number of people who had flu shots both fairly close to the averages for that time period, the Harris Poll reported Tuesday. The effectiveness of flu vaccines also seems to have been fairly typical.

According to a poll of 2,300 adults surveyed online between April 16 and 21, 2014, 44% of all adults report that they had flu shots. This compares with 40%, 39%, 44%, 40% and 44% over the five previous winters. And as many as 13% of adults believe that they had the flu last winter, compared to 18%, 12%, 11%, 11% and 14% over the five previous winters.

As in most of the Harris Polls on this topic over the last ten years, the numbers of people who believe they had the flu was almost the same for people who had flu shots (12%) and those who did not (13%). However, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that the vaccine was ineffective. There is clear evidence in this poll that people who were more vulnerable were also more likely to have received shots.

For example, efforts to vaccinate the elderly, who are more vulnerable to flu, seem to have been quite effective. Fully 76% of people aged 65 and over were vaccinated, and only 7% of seniors report that they had the flu. People aged 25 to 29 years were the least likely (16%) to be have had flu shots, and they were the most likely (19%) to believe that they had the flu.

Almost half of all adults (47%) think they will get flu shots next winter. This includes the great majority (92%) of people who had one last winter and only a few (10%) of those who did not.

"The diagnosis, and particularly self-diagnosis, of the flu is not very reliable, as other infections can produce flu-like symptoms," noted Harris Poll chairman Humphrey Taylor. "This raises the question of whether some people who report having had the flu may have been mistaken." This year’s survey finds that about three quarters of these people are "certain" they had the flu (74%) and two thirds spent one or more days in bed (66%). However, only 47% visited a doctor who diagnosed the flu.

 

 

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Duane Reade shopping app updated, incorporates integration of iBeacon

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Duane Reade on Tuesday released the first update to its app for iPhone including the integration of iBeacon for 10-select Duane Reade locations active as of May 1. 

“The Duane Reade app plays an integral role in our omnichannel customer engagement strategy,” stated Calvin Peters, PR/digital communications manager for Walgreens. “Mobile interaction is at the core of our social media success as mobile and social are intrinsically linked; the addition of these new 2.0 features, as well as the integration of iBeacon technology, will continue to fuel our digital customer experience strategy, as we strive to push forward our New York Living Made Easy mantra," he said. "It is incredibly important for Duane Reade to be where our customers are, including on their smart mobile devices. This update aligns with our goal to provide them with tools, programs and category specific consumer-generated media that offer relevant convenience, including trusted product and service insights.”

This update significantly adds to the existing features in the Duane Reade iPhone app including: the new Weekly Ads & Coupons, Pill Reminder, DR Walk-In, Preferred Store, Shopping List, Steps and QuickPrints from Instagram. The app update is part of Duane Reade’s commitment to foster greater customer engagement with its value-added loyalty offers, including digital and social content initiatives tied to the in-store shopping experience.

According to Duane Reade, the addition of iBeacon to the Duane Reade app vastly improves the customer in-store user experience. iBeacon is a technology Apple introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geo-fencing to provide apps a new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores. The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds features such as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point-of-decision. iBeacon will initially be available at 10 select Duane Reade stores in Manhattan to test the viability of a further rollout.

The 2.0 update is the first in a series of major app announcements planned for Duane Reade in 2014, Peters said. The first wave of releases brings the app up-to-par with the features of the Walgreens’ iPhone app. Through the app’s in-store mode, customers will have quick access to their individual Balance Rewards loyalty program barcode, paperless coupons scorecard indicating the specific number clipped and the savings associated with each, a floor map displaying a bird’s eye view of the store location, product locator for item search and location plotting of the item via the in-store map, scanner options allow for instant product scans revealing detailed item information, mobile coupon clipping for immediate redemption at POS facilitating a seamless value-added experience via Balance Rewards and instant Instagram 4X4 prints directly to a Duane Reade location.

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Alliance Boots acquires Farmacias Ahumada with retail pharmacy operations in Mexico and Chile

BY Michael Johnsen

ZUG, Switzerland — Alliance Boots on Tuesday announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Farmacias Ahumada.

“This acquisition will give Alliance Boots a major presence in the attractive Latin American market, one of our priority areas for investment," stated Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots executive chairman. "It is also a further step towards reaching a truly global footprint. The well-positioned retail pharmacy businesses of Farmacias Ahumada and Farmacias Benavides will be great additions to our Group’s unique portfolio of retail, product and service brands around the world. We are confident in the high potential for sustainable growth and value generation that will be unlocked by this acquisition, including the opportunity for consumers in Mexico and Chile to access for the first time leading Boots product brands, such as our renowned skincare and cosmetics ranges.”

The acquisition comprises two main businesses, which together operate more than 1,400 stores, with combined revenues of around $1.4 billion. Farmacias Benavides is the third largest retail pharmacy chain in Mexico with around 1,000 stores, and Farmacias Ahumada is one of the three largest retail pharmacy chains in Chile with around 400 stores.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2014.

 

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