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Social media a marketing platform for health care

BY Alaric DeArment

Social media ranks as one of those technologies that has changed the world in many ways, allowing networking across the world, sharing of thoughts and events from people’s lives, embarrassment of public figures and, more recently, even helping to feed political revolutions. 


It also has created a new platform for companies looking to get their products — and word of those products — out to a wider audience.


Last month, the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council released the last installment of a five-part report on social media, reporting that grocery marketers significantly can leverage any social media participation by responding to tweets on Twitter and using LinkedIn, a professional networking site. “The explosive growth of social networking seems to have caught much of the marketing world by surprise,” CCRRC research director Michael Sansolo said. “In one survey, we found nearly 70% of supermarket chief marketing officers state they feel unprepared to integrate social media into their marketing mix.”


But consumers certainly aren’t unprepared. Considering that so many people are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a combination of those, not being on them soon may become the new Luddism, with a social networking account being regarded as indispensable as a cell phone. In this type of environment, not having a social media presence isn’t the best way to do business. “When you’re marketing on cable [television], you’re kind of just talking to the person sitting on a couch versus the person sitting on the couch who’s talking to all their friends at the same time,” Robin Leedy, president of public relations firm Robin Leedy & Associates, told Drug Store News. “So I think it’s about targeting [people] who [are] in a specific place that you need them to be to drive them to purchase, and then also influencing like-minded people in their circle almost in real time.”


The companies that do embrace social media are finding this out in real time also, as has been the case of two companies making health and hygiene products for women that have sought to increase their presence in the U.S. market.


One company is Lifes2Good, which markets the natural hair-growth product Viviscal for women who have experienced hair loss due to stress, hormonal changes or medications. The company has focused most of its attention on Facebook, as well as Twitter, sending its products for review to bloggers, who then drive traffic back to the Facebook site. Meanwhile, many influencers — including fashion and style magazine editors — have mentioned Viviscal on Twitter, getting the product further attention.


“It’s the easiest way to engage customers,” brand manager John Halbert told DSN. Later this year, the company plans to create a new online hair-loss community for Viviscal that will tie together all of its social media, Halbert said.


Another product is Softcup, made by Evofem and marketed as a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary napkins. Its marketing campaign has included a lot of social media, particularly Facebook, a blog and a Twitter feed. These have been useful in addressing the large number of women with questions about the product, including TweetChats on Twitter with Evofem’s resident OB-GYN and endorsers, as well as allowing new and prospective users to ask questions on Softcup’s Facebook page. “Social media is about empowering our existing consumers to speak for us and to validate the brand to women who are new to Softcup,” Evofem VP sales and marketing Tracey Saenz told DSN.


One thing that many people seem to agree on is that social media is about more than just getting the word out — it’s also about getting the word from consumers themselves. “One thing that is common across all those platforms is that we use them to listen to our customers, because listening is just as important as talking,” Saenz said, noting that consumers sometimes would respond to questions posted online before Evofem’s staff had a chance to.


Leedy had a similar view. “Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re listening for, and someone makes a comment, and then 10 other people comment on that,” Leedy said. “You wouldn’t have had that dialog had that consumer not had the open place to do it.”

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Q&A: Enhanced insights

BY DSN STAFF

Drug Store News spoke with Adam Holyk, Walgreens divisional VP loyalty and consumer insights, about the newly created consumer insights team focused on enhancing Walgreens’ engagement with its patients and customers, and how it will help complement Walgreens’ marketing efforts.


DSN: What is the overall vision for the insights team?


Adam Holyk: We’re building world-class capabilities around … a team of mathematicians with statistical backgrounds, market researchers and management consultants. Ultimately what we’re focused on is helping Walgreens listen to our customers both through customer satisfaction and understanding what they actually do within our stores. Building the team is all around helping us achieve our strategy to be closest to customers.


DSN: How do you expect to deploy those insights into actionable programs?


Holyk: It will start with the data, and we will be collecting [that] data through multiple channels. Through our analytics, our goal is to discover key insights across the store to start changing customer experience and ultimately [drive] customer loyalty. [This will help us deliver] on the promise of being “My Walgreens” for everyone in America. That will involve localizing our store assortment based on who shops our stores, when they shop our stores and what they’re interested in. In addition to that, we also have opportunities on refining our promotional strategies based on how customers interact. And finally, [the insights will help] guide our product development ideas.


DSN: With Walgreens extending its health reach beyond retail pharmacy into atypical venues like workplace clinics, how does this effort support that dynamic?


Holyk: A thorough segmentation of our customers [will help us] understand gaps in current product offerings and services. Based on those insights, we’ll be able to make decisions, such as informing site locations for our Take Care Clinics to delivering better and more personalized services to each individual customer within our stores.


DSN: What role will payers and CPG partners play?


Holyk: We’re beginning a ramp-up and increase in collaboration with our vendor communities. We believe we actually further accelerate the mission to be closest to customers by partnering with vendors in order to discover, share and implement insights. I would say a lot more to come on that front and stay tuned.

To listen to the full audio Q&A, click here.

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2012 CVS Caremark Charity Classic to kick off next month with new format

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark, along with CVS Charity Classic co-hosts Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, unveiled on Monday the field for the Charity Classic’s 14th anniversary edition.

This year, the annual golf tournament is scheduled for June 17 to 19 at the Rhode Island Country Club and will benefit numerous regional charities. It once again will draw a roster of elite PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour professionals. Making her inaugural appearance this year is Yani Tseng, who has held the top spot in the LPGA for more than one year.

Tournament week begins with the Pepsi Pro-Am on June 17 followed by the two-day tournament on June 18 and 19 at the Rhode Island Country Club. The tournament format this year, however, will be slightly altered for 2012 — Tuesday’s play being changed to a scramble format. The Pepsi Max Shootout, where the first-place team from both the Pepsi Pro-Am morning and afternoon rounds compete in a playoff during Monday’s professional tournament, is back for 2012. In addition, the pros will be competing for designated charities in the annual charity closest to the pin contest, CVS Caremark said.

During the last 14 years, the CVS Caremark Charity Classic has raised $15 million for charities around the region, providing vital funding for a variety of critical programs serving children, families and people in transition throughout southeastern New England, the company said.

"The CVS Caremark Charity Classic brings an unmatched level of professional golf and excitement to Rhode Island, all to support the vital work of our non profit partners across the region," CVS Caremark Charity Classic tournament chairwoman Eileen Howard Boone said. "We’re proud to have given back more than $15 million to hundreds of worthwhile charities and we salute the thousands of volunteers from our charity partners who make this tournament a success for fans and their organizations alike."

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