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Loyalty Limelight: ExtraCare Goes ExtraPaperless

The program: CVS/pharmacy’s ExtraCare Rewards Program

In a nutshell: With more than 69 million active members, the CVS ExtraCare program is touted as the largest retail loyalty program in operation, and the longest-running in the pharmacy space.

New features: ExtraCare is going paperless and eliminating the need to carry rewards in our wallets. Members who sign up for a CVS.com account can now receive their quarterly rewards via email and then either forward them directly to their ExtraCare card, print them out at home, or have them printed out at the store.

This option expands on the first digital “send to card” option rolled out last August, which enabled cardholders to send select ExtraCare email offers directly to their ExtraCare card. This new feature accumulates all rewards earned at the register.

Takeaways: This added service by CVS is surely a welcome one, as any feature that provides consumers with easier options is a positive enhancement. But several factors come to play:

* We know from COLLOQUY, a leading provider of loyalty research and publications, that consumers are enrolled in more programs than ever before – more than 18 per household. With so many cards vying for the consumer’s attention, any effort to make a program more manageable has an edge in winning their hearts and dollars. And that goes double if the innovation reduces the number of paper offers bunching up in our wallets.

* Convenience is critical to consumer retention, but it requires a business rationale in order to generate long-term benefits all around. In this case, the program enables consumers to manage and redeem rewards more easily, which will drive increased traffic into its stores.

* CVS’s paperless move is definitely a step in the proper direction for consumers, and the environment. But consumers are exponentially adaptable to new technologies, and are likely poised for even more options. My hunch is that the paperless feature is actually a half step, setting CVS up for mobile solutions.

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