Target shows it is on health, wellness track

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Target’s pharmacy division got a big boost early this month when the Industrial Designers Society of America named its ClearRx bottle for prescription drugs the Design of the Decade. The award — coupled with another J.D. Power customer satisfaction award earlier this year — are affirmation that the 1,752-store big-box giant is on the right track as it renews its niche in health and wellness.

(THE NEWS: Target’s ClearRx named Design of the Decade. For the full story, click here)

ClearRx is a well-conceived, carefully crafted package aimed at making it as easy as possible for patients to identify their medicines, comply with the dosage regimen and avoid confusion. The wide, flat face on the bottle gives plenty of room to display cautionary information about the drug inside, and bottles feature bigger print for seniors and others who can’t easily read the fine print. Target even offers, for free, a card-sized magnifier that fits in a slot on the bottle, behind the patient information card.

Another innovation: For multiperson households, ClearRx bottles come with personalized, color-coded ID rings for each family member to prevent medicine mix-ups.

The appearance in 2005 of ClearRx at Target’s pharmacies was a design breakthrough in its own right, but it also signaled the start of a long campaign by the upscale discount giant to revitalize its health-and-wellness image and drive revenue growth at its pharmacies. The chain is courting pharmacy customers with a slew of wellness programs, service offerings and discounts.

Behind that effort is company research that showed that on average, Target pharmacy customers spend three times more in the store than those who don’t use one of the chain’s nearly 1,600 pharmacies.

Thus, Target increasingly is tying its service message and in-store promotions with its pharmacy offerings. Among the most recent examples is an expanded discount program for the Target REDcard, launched in mid-October, which offers customers a one-day discount coupon, good throughout the store, every time they fill five prescriptions at a Target pharmacy.

The chain also actively is promoting its flu shot capabilities and disease management programs for diabetes, and in November conducted a month-long “Celebrate Smoke-free” campaign at its pharmacies to help customers kick the habit. The effort provided “greater visibility to Target pharmacy and Target clinic healthcare professionals, who can offer support, smoking-cessation materials and advice,” according to the company.

Meanwhile, Target continues to aggressively promote such healthcare products as diabetes supplies in its circulars, along with its ongoing $4 pricing for 30-day supplies of many commonly prescribed generic drugs. Target also offers 90-day supplies of those me-too medicines at $10.

And the company has invested in pharmacy technology upgrades to boost efficiencies in the dispensing process and drive a more integrated approach to patient therapy and outcomes.

Target’s efforts to build customer recognition and sales at its pharmacies clearly are having an impact. Earlier this year, company officials justly were touting the 2009 customer satisfaction survey from J.D. Power and Associates. For the third year in a row, the chain scored highest in pharmacy satisfaction levels among mass merchandise retailers.

On a broader front, Target also was a founding member in 2009 of the Alliance to Make US Healthiest, a coalition whose goal is to boost the physical and emotional health of U.S. citizens within homes, schools and the workplace.