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Leveling up customer loyalty with apps

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In its partnership with Niantic Labs, Duane Reade has gamified the shopping experience through an app called Ingress. No purchase is necessary, but who in New York walks into a Duane Reade and then out again empty-handed? It's a traffic builder and impulse purchase opportunity. And it's working.

"All 250-plus of our store locations were activated into the mobile game as portals, and we became real game pieces for Ingress players," Calvin Peters, Duane Reade's PR and online manager, told DSN. "The key takeaway [is] that customers could interact in a number of ways leading them inside our locations."

An Ingress logo is located on the front window of Duane Reade stores around the city signaling players of the company's participation and the existence of a value-added game asset located inside the store. Each asset will display its own unique code, which gives players a range of resources for playing the global interative game including energy, offensive and defensive game objects — such as resonators, weapons and shields — and possibly media objects.

"Gaming apps in particular are big business," Peters said. "Studies show in 2012, revenue earned from apps will approach $10 billion, but games will take 80% of that pie. Our expected demographic for Ingress is male and female [trendsetters] between 18 years and 34 years old. This happens to be the most active demographic on Duane Reade's social platform engagement."

It's not only about driving traffic into Duane Reade locations, it's also about driving the right traffic. The higher income subsegment within this group gravitates toward prestige brands, Peters said, many of which are featured within Duane Reade's Look Boutique, for example. "Our signature Look Boutique beauty department and our UpMarket store concepts will stand to benefit by catering to this customer demographic," he said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota may have found a new way to deliver health insurance information with better retention value. "If people don't understand the basics [of health insurance], they can't make informed decisions. So how do we take this set of historically dry and uninteresting information and reimagine it?" asked Doug Ghertner, president and CEO Change Healthcare and a former CVS/Caremark SVP. "That is what [Change Healthcare's] Healthcare University does. We use videos, quizzes, challenges, game mechanics and actual games to educate people."

And it worked. Over the course of the first six weeks, almost half of Blue Cross Blue Shield's employees proactively engaged Healthcare University — watching 9,000 videos, taking 7,500 quizzes and playing 19,000 games. "What it told us was there is absolutely a thirst for this kind of information at the consumer level, but you've just got to deliver it in a much more engaging way."

And it's not just the younger employees who were drinking in the information. "Between the under-30 set and the over-50 set, it was 41% vs. 37% [of employees who interacted with Healthcare University]," Ghertner said. "Females more than males engaged at maybe 500 basis points better, but there wasn't huge variability in terms of age."

The applications go beyond health insurance information. "You have this massive retailization of health care," Ghertner said. "With that comes this need to have a fundamentally different set of tools."

"What we're really excited about with Healthcare University is just the multitude of places where we can build content that educates and engages members, but also minimizes disruption associated with many of the different plan design changes that employers and health plans are wanting to make," Ghertner added. "When you put it into the context of pharmacy benefit managers and drug store chains, there is huge opportunity to educate," he said, including education on Medicare programs or preferred pharmacy networks. "This is the type of mechanism in which you can educate people and influence where they fill their prescriptions."

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