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Tide downsizes ‘Tide to Go’

BY Doug Desjardins

CINCINNATI Tide will release a new version of its Tide to Go stain remover this month that’s smaller and more portable. The Tide to Go Mini is about the size of a lipstick case and fits easily into handbags and pockets.

“The new ‘Mini’ gives everyone the reliable stain-fighting power with even more portability so they can carry the ‘Mini’ anywhere,” said Tide associate marketing director Kevin Crociata.

The ‘Mini’ dries quickly without leaving watermarks and works on everything from coffee stains to grease. It’s priced at $2.99 for a single tube and $5.49 for a two-pack.

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Judge upholds Medi-Cal cuts

BY DSN STAFF

LOS ANGELES —Snatching a short-lived victory away from thousands of pharmacists in California, a state court here reversed an earlier decision to halt a steep, 10 percent cut in the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal.

The ruling, issued July 29 by Los Angeles Superior Court judge William Highberger, overturned a court injunction issued just days earlier. Highberger ruled that the cuts, which went into effect July 1, would remain in effect on the grounds that the court didn’t have the legal authority to halt the cuts, despite issuing a statement in support of the argument by pharmacy advocates that the cuts would harm local pharmacy operators and could curtail access to health care for millions of low-income Californians.

“The court recognized the dramatic impacts the Medi-Cal cuts will have on Medi-Cal beneficiaries and the state’s healthcare system, but ruled on narrow procedural grounds” said Craig Cannizzo, the attorney for the coalition of healthcare providers that sued in May to block the reduction in payments.

The 10 percent reduction was adopted in an emergency budget session of California’s legislature early this year, and was immediately opposed by pharmacy and other health-care provider groups. Its impact, beginning July 1, has been to reduce the $7.25 fee California pharmacists are paid to dispense Medi-Cal prescriptions to approximately $6.50.

“This is a terrible blow to Medi-Cal providers across the state,” said Lynn Rolston, chief executive officer of the California Pharmacists Association. “Some pharmacists have already begun turning away patients as they are losing $10, $20, $30 or more on nearly every prescription filled.”

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Survey says use of online coupons up

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. —The number of people turning to the Web for coupons has grown by more than 38 percent over the past three years, and now totals some 36 million “coupon clickers,” according to a new study released late last month by Coupons Inc., a leading provider of interactive coupon marketing and technologies.

The survey, conducted by Simmons/Experian Research, found that one key demographic for consumer packaged goods companies—young families with children and an annual household income of $60,000 or more—were more likely to print coupons online than clip them out of a newspaper or insert. Some key findings:

In households making more than $60,000 a year, 61 percent printed coupons from the Web versus the 56.6 percent who clipped paper coupons.

Among consumers age 35 and under, 29.4 percent download online coupons versus 23.3 percent who clip paper.

35.6 percent of households with a child under the age of 18 use online coupons versus 29.2 percent who clip paper.

But it’s not just young families that are seeking savings online—boomers are doing it, too. “It’s a false assumption to say that consumers 60 and older are not using the Internet,” Jeff Weitzman, chief marketing officer for Coupons Inc., told Drug Store News. “There is a very active [online] community within that age group.” Today’s retirees are using the Internet more and more as a kind of online senior community center where they can find fellow retirees with similar interests, he said.

But it’s not so much how many people download online offers; it’s how many redeem them. Redemption rates are also higher among online coupon users versus print, reaching almost 17 percent, according to Weitzman, compared with less than 1 percent redemption of free-standing insert coupons.

In addition to higher utilization rates, online couponing affords marketers the opportunity to do a little demographic research of their own. According to the research, more than 70 percent of consumers seeking to download a $2 coupon were willing to share personal information, such as their full names and mailing addresses, or were willing to fill out a questionnaire.

That has the potential of helping to fine tune promotional strategies for retailers that post coupons on their sites. And, if the consumer becomes conditioned to finding greater value on a retailer’s Web page before they even reach the store, it also has the potential of increasing shopper loyalty. “Retailer sites are one of the more popular places to get coupons,” Weitzman noted. One of the primary reasons consumers visit retailer Web sites, according to the survey, “is to see if there are any promotions or deals they can find before visiting the store,” he said.

Online couponing also easier to track and trace. Coupons Inc., for example, can pinpoint when a coupon has been printed and where that particular coupon was redeemed. There is also greater control over the total number of coupons that can be downloaded or printed per computer, as well as the number of total coupons printed.

In addition to the survey, Coupons Inc. has developed a couponing index that not only helps measure demand but also can serve as a leading indicator of economic stress. That can help retailers tweak their promotional strategies to better reflect real-time economic pressures. “The Coupon Index is more an instant measure of consumer psychology,” Weitzman said.

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