Rite Aid: Loyalty program targets seniors, rewards prescription fills

Like any company looking to stage a turnaround, Rite Aid has employed multiple tactics to return to profitability and win back investors’ favor, but few of those programs have been as important to the chain’s efforts as its loyalty card program.

While it’s neither the first retail pharmacy loyalty program nor the largest, Wellness+ stands out as being the first to tie in specifically to the pharmacy — and that’s what has helped make it so successful.

According to the latest numbers the chain has available, the number of active members — defined as those who have used the card at least twice over a 26-week period — stands at about 25 million.

In June, Rite Aid said Wellness+ members accounted for 77% of front-end sales and 70% of prescriptions filled, both indicating growth over first quarter 2013. Gold and Silver members, increased by 4% during the same period.

A key part of the program is that it gives the biggest rewards — and the fastest way to become a “Silver” or “Gold” member — for filling prescriptions at the pharmacy. For that reason, the program holds strong appeal to patients with multiple chornic conditions, or polychronic patients.

The latest extension to the Wellness+ program since the 2011 launch of Wellness+ for Diabetes, Wellness65+ offers expanded pharmacist consultations, Wellness65+ Wednesday — in which members receive 20% off all qualifying purchases and access to activities like free health screenings — and access to health information. As of September, when Rite Aid announced its second-quarter 2014 earnings, Wellness65+ had 930,000 members enrolled, and president and COO Ken Martindale said in an analyst call that seniors had been “very receptive” to it.