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Wellness makes it all ‘Rite’

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — What should be clear by now is that Rite Aid is making a big comeback, and along the way, it’s also carving out an important niche for itself.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid opens ‘next generation’ Wellness store, reports September sales. For the full story, click here.)

"Wellness" has been an overarching theme of Rite Aid’s marketing, from its Wellness stores to its Wellness+ loyalty card program. But it’s more than just a word — it also is the guiding force for what goes on inside the store.

The longstanding GNC store-within-a-store sections featured at many Rite Aid locations, the Wellness Ambassadors and new features, such as the Diabetes Diagnostic Center and a pharmacy designed to be more "open and inviting" exemplify Rite Aid’s efforts to tie the four corners of its stores together and position them as destinations for wellness. And updating the still-new Wellness format shows a commitment to staying at the front lines.

That kind of differentiation will be important as Rite Aid seeks to generate growth, which it lately has done quite effectively, reporting increased pharmacy traffic and comps that beat analysts’ expectations in its September sales results.

According to the company’s second-quarter 2013 earnings call with Wall Street analysts on Sept. 20, the chain plans to have 780 Wellness stores by the end of fiscal year 2013 and already has trained 815 Wellness Ambassadors. While that’s still a fraction of the more than 4,600 stores in the chain, and such external factors as the aftermath of the Walgreens-Express Scripts dispute and the generic wave will continue to play important roles, it represents a significant part of a concerted effort to grow sales that, so far, is working.

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Kroger receives honor from Alliance to Save Energy

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Kroger was bestowed with Alliance to Save Energy’s top award at the organization’s annual awards dinner.

The retailer said it received ASE’s "Galaxy" Star of Energy Efficiency for utilizing a variety of practices, including ways to increase energy efficiency, employing such technology as LED lights and engaging store associates in energy savings initiatives. To view Kroger’s full ASE nomination, click here.

"We are honored to receive this recognition from the Alliance to Save Energy," Kroger chairman and CEO David Dillon said. "This is a real tribute to Kroger’s 339,000 associates who bring our energy saving programs to life every day. We will continue to work tirelessly in all areas of our business to reduce energy consumption."

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More than 60% never immunized against whooping cough, Walgreens study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — While most adults in the United States believe immunizations are important, consumer sentiment doesn’t always drive behavior, according to a new survey by Walgreens.

The Walgreens Immunization Index survey of 600 adults, conducted by Directions Research between Aug. 29 and Sept. 15, and released by the retail pharmacy chain Thursday, found that 71% of respondents said being up-to-date on immunizations is important to maintaining good health, compared with 68% who said the same about annual doctor visits. But it also found that more than 40% don’t know which immunizations they might need, while 31% didn’t know the status of reported cases or outbreaks of whooping cough in their areas, despite 89% saying vaccinations can prevent disease amid what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the most severe outbreak of the disease, also known as pertussis, in 50 years.

The survey also found that 55% of respondents said they would be very likely to adhere to the vaccine recommendation for whooping cough, while 61% said they had never been immunized against it, and 37% said it had been more than 10 years since their last immunization or booster. Twenty percent said they didn’t know when they received the vaccine.

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents said they could prevent shingles by washing their hands and getting plenty of sleep, though the only preventive measures are vaccination and maintaining a strong immune system; 13% said they considered themselves likely to get the disease in their lifetimes, though the CDC said 1-in-3 will develop it, with the elderly being particularly vulnerable.

Respondents showed greater knowledge of flu shots. Sixty-four percent said they would be likely to follow a healthcare provider’s recommendation for a flu shot, while 85% of those who received one during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 had received them in the seasons since.


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