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A toast to CVS and Twitter

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT This has been a busy month or so for CVS Caremark. Last week it was a party on Beale Street as the chain announced its entry into Memphis, Tenn.; this week it broke out the pina coladas and celebrated its entry into Puerto Rico. Last month, it was Budweiser in St. Louis.

(THE NEWS: CVS/pharmacy joins Twitter. For the full story, click here)

There are just eight states in which CVS does not operate stores: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. 

In drug store retailing, filling in the map is important; being able to provide coverage “from sea to shining sea” means a lot when you go out and try to sell your services to big healthcare payers.

And while CVS’ recent store openings shouldn’t be overlooked or short-sold, Drug Store News fully believes the news that the company’s move onto Twitter is deserving of a toast. CVS appears to have very quietly launched its Twitter page Feb. 10, and although it still trails Walgreens’ page in terms of followers, in fairness to CVS, Walgreens has been at this for a while longer. Since its first tweet Feb. 10, CVS is up to 1,938 followers at press time versus 6,282 followers for Walgreens, which posted its first tweet on June 9, 2009.

Clearly, tying Twitter to its ExtraCare card has given it a bit of an advantage in terms of its ability to grow an audience quickly. There is a reason that CVS got to 64 million cardholders; there is a reason why Tom Ryan has cited the program in almost every earnings call since the company introduced ExtraCare almost 10 years ago. It’s because ExtraCare cardholders are highly engaged CVS customers. Using Twitter to communicate special deals is a smart bet and likely a strong reason why it managed to grow its audience so quickly in its first week on the highly popular social media site. When Drug Store News first reported on CVS’ new Twitter page, Feb. 11, the company had just 812 followers; less than 24 hours later that number had more than doubled.

But there is a lot more to social media — particularly, Twitter — than just trying to push people to your brand, as Drug Store News itself has learned, which has 600 followers of its own — we started back in March 2009.  In the beginning we simply tweeted stories that appeared on our Qeb site; that got us about 100 followers. These days, we tweet items that may or may not appear in Drug Store News or any of the other magazines. We just try to keep our audience engaged — not just with the brand, but with each other as well. As a result, we have found that our Twitter followers are some of our most engaged and active users on drugstorenews.com.

Twitter is not a commercial so much as it is a community; it’s about education and communication. It’s marketing alright but it’s more subtle than a circular or a print ad or a 30-second TV spot could ever be. It’s more like a product placement on a hit TV show — the brand benefits from just being associated with the content; it’s written “into” the script rather than having had a script written for it. That’s the magic of Twitter.

Starting off by tying Twitter to ExtraCare was a brilliant first move for CVS. Twitter, and social networking in general, are how its next generation of shoppers communicates with each other. To stay relevant with that crowd over the long term, Twitter will have to be more than an extension of ExtraCare.

In the meantime, it can pick up some more sales by finding yet another way to get its best customers to buy more, while growing its social marketing presence.

One other CVS item that deserves a toast: the 800 health fair events it has planned for this year, under its “A Su Salud” program. Last year the company gave away $49 million worth of health screenings through the program. But perhaps even more impressive than that number is the impact at the patient-level. Of the more than 195,000 people screened during last year’s events —

* 33% had high cholesterol* 36% had a high to moderate risk of developing osteoporosis* 28% had hypertension* 22% had diabetes — more than half diagnosed for the first time.

That is a pretty powerful demonstration of what NACDS and NCPA and other pharmacy leaders call “pharmacy as physician extender.”Now, Drug Store News will drink to that: Cheers! Or, should we say, “Salud?”

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mark17 says:
Apr-15-2013 06:00 am

Twitter is a way for businesses to regain a personal connection with customers. Aside from customer service, companies use Twitter to list product announcements, special discount codes, and marketing opportunities. Thanks for this informative post sharing the importance of Twitter. buy facebook likes

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CVS extends reach to Puerto Rico

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy has entered Puerto Rico with its first two locations slated to officially open Feb. 15. The company plans to open nine stores on the island in 2010.

“We are pleaded to introduce the CVS/pharmacy brand to the growing Puerto Rico market,” stated Larry Merlo, president of CVS/pharmacy. “CVS is committed to provided high quality pharmacy care and offering convenient products and services at a great value to the Puerto Rican community.”

The openings will create about 400 new jobs in Puerto Rico this year. In addition to the new stores opening this month in San Juan and Bayamon, more locations are expected to open this year in Arecibo, Bayamon (two additional stores), Dorado, Fajardo, Vega Alta and Vega Baja.

As part of its entry into Puerto Rico, CVS/pharmacy announced a donation of $10,000 to Instituto Psicopedagogico de PR, a Bayamon-based agency that provides specialized health, nutrition, education and essential care to adults and children in Puerto Rico with severe mental disabilties to improve their quality of life.

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Decision Resources: Ulcerative colitis drug market could double by 2018

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. The market for drugs to treat ulcerative colitis could almost double within less than 10 years, according to a report released Thursday.

Market research firm Decision Resources said the market for the drugs could rise from the $1.2 billion they had in sales in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2018 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

The primary drugs driving growth are expected to be Humira (adalimumab), by Abbott and Eisai, and Simponi (golimumab), by Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Mitsubishi Tanabe. The two drugs, both monoclonal antibodies belonging to TNF-alpha inhibitor class, could prove to be effective alternatives to existing maintenance therapies, though their high prices could limit their overall uptake.

“However, the short-term nature of corticosteroid treatment and the waning efficacy observed with immunosupressants and TNF-alpha inhibitors highlight the shortcomings of marketed products for ulcerative colitis both in induction and maintenance regimens,” Decision Resources analyst Kathryn Benton said in a statement.

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