CVS Pharmacy prefers text over email


CVS Pharmacy, Woonsocket, R.I., recently enhanced its loyalty service with a mobile messaging program that the company feels is a better way to engage its loyalty members than email when it comes to coupons, personalized offers and more. The retailer boasts more than 6,000 private label products that it can tap into when recommending offers to its ExtraCare loyalty members, who once enrolled in the new mobile messaging program receive exclusive deals via text alerts as well as reminders of when coupons and ExtraBucks are expiring. 

However, consumers won't get more than one text message per week so as not to bombard members with too many text messages, a CVS representative told the Path to Purchase Institute, a partner publication and organization of Store Brands.

The same representative cited a recent survey by telecommunications and cloud communications platform Sinch, which showed that consumers are 35 times more likely to see a brand’s texts versus emails. The survey also found that 40% of consumers admit they have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox, while nearly one in 10 admit to having more than 1,000. On the other hand, unread text messages are far less common, with only 4% saying they have 50 or more unread texts.

CVS already offers text alerts to enrolled pharmacy patients to let them know when a prescription is ready for pickup, and the drugstore chain is now betting that text alerts to ExtraCare members will get better open rates and engagement than email blasts. During its third quarter earnings call on Nov. 6, chief executive officer Larry Merlo said the company is engaging with more than 82 million members and consumers via text message, up 7% from 77 million in the second quarter.

40% of consumers admit they have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox, while nearly one in 10 admit to having more than 1,000.
Per a survey from telecommunications company Sinch

Consumer-facing marketing for the new text program has just recently kicked off, with dedicated email blasts and display ads on the end of other emails that link to a supporting landing page. Members can enroll in the program by asking an employee or by using the keypad prompt at checkout, by text messaging “Extra” to “397-473,” or in the CVS app under the “Account” section. Those who opt in to the mobile program will also continue to receive personalized offers and eligible rewards via other channels like the CVS mobile application, website and emails.

The text messaging push falls under the current core enterprise priorities, which are largely focused on integrating enhanced data and technology to better target shoppers and creating a consumer-centric technology infrastructure.

CVS claims more than 78 million members in its loyalty program and in recent years has expanded its membership offerings to include the ExtraCare Beauty Club as well as ExtraCare Health and Pharmacy Rewards. Most recently, CVS also expanded its Amazon-like CarePass membership program nationwide following a positive pilot, and enrolled more than 1 million members in the program in just two months. CarePass offers members free 1-2 day shipping on prescriptions and select front-store items, 24/7 access to a pharmacist helpline, and a 20% discount on CVS Health brand products — all for $5 a month or a flat annual rate of $48.

NOTE: Path to Purchase Institute members have access to more than 3,400 images and 400 articles of marketing and merchandising activity at CVS Pharmacy, along with a full Retailer Profile outlining the chain’s operations and strategies.