Wendy future of retail top

Rite Aid expands loyalty plan by joining coalition

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NEW YORK — Rite Aid Corp. has joined with a group of blue-chip companies to launch Plenti, described as the first U.S.-based coalition loyalty program.

John Learish

Rite Aid’s John Learish at the Plenti launch event.

Operated by American Express, the free program will let consumers earn and redeem points for purchases at all of the participating companies, regardless of the payment method.

Along with Rite Aid and American Express, Plenti’s inaugural partners include Macy’s, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Nationwide, Direct Energy and Hulu. Each company will be the exclusive provider in its business segment. Plans call for Plenti to roll out in May at more than 25,000 retail locations.

At Rite Aid, Plenti will be integrated with the drug chain’s free wellness+ customer loyalty program, according to John Learish, senior vice president of marketing. Current members will be asked to re-enroll to receive Plenti’s benefits along with their existing wellness+ rewards. Members opting into Plenti will get a new, co-branded wellness+ with Plenti card.

“We’re going to continue to keep the best of wellness+ in place,” Learish said. In one change, Rite Aid’s promotional +Up Rewards in wellness+ will be converted to Plenti points. “But the program structure of wellness+ will remain largely intact,” he added.

Once Plenti launches, the points that wellness+ members now earn via health, beauty, wellness, pharmacy and other purchases at Rite Aid will earn them Plenti points that can be applied to savings or purchases at the other Plenti merchants.

For example, consumers buying gas at a participating Exxon or Mobil station could use the points for savings on a pair of shoes at Macy’s. Likewise, they can earn Plenti points by signing up for wireless services at AT&T or Nationwide auto or property insurance.

“We have 25 million active members in wellness+ today, and it captures almost 80% of our business. The reason we have that kind of engagement is because it has such a rich reward program and high value to customers,” Learish explained. “What we said was, ‘How can we add more value going forward?’ Plenti is a natural evolution for us. The ability for us to provide the additional benefit of allowing customers to earn and use points not just at Rite Aid but also at all of these other great partners is an added ­value.”

Rite Aid plans a major multimedia and in-store marketing campaign for Plenti, including on-shelf and online promotional vehicles.

“We will have the opportunity to introduce the Rite Aid brand to our partners’ customers that might not be shopping in Rite Aid today,” Learish said. “So all of the partners will benefit by being able to bring new business into their stores.”

Consumers can enroll in Plenti through any of the participating merchants or at Plenti.com. One point equals at least one cent; 1,000 points will translate to at least $10 in savings. The points earned in Plenti are active for two years. Members will be able to earn points faster by activating special promotional offers across participating brands or through Plenti’s online offer center and marketplace.

Plenti will enable consumers to replace multiple loyalty cards with a single card, noted Abeer Bhatia, executive vice president and chief executive officer of American Express’ U.S. Loyalty division, which is managing the Plenti program. At the same time, Plenti members will have the ability to earn and use points for savings at more than one retailer, he said.

“For the customer, it provides simplicity, flexibility and convenience,” Bhatia said. “From a retailer perspective, they’re giving consumers something they want, increasing their loyalty and, hopefully, encouraging consumers to engage more with them and shop with them.”

Picking up a key ring loaded with loyalty card tags, Bhatia said, “We hope to make this thing disappear.”

American Express cited research finding that 72% of Americans would prefer a rewards program that lets them shop at many stores. Bhatia said Plenti will add more merchant partners going forward.


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