Finding Jenny: Rite-Aid Rethinks Long-Term Strategy Around LTV

Who’s Jenny? Well, she isn’t Rite-Aid’s traditional target consumer: that retiree who hangs around the prescription counter every other day. As the brand's director of digital marketing, Joe Tertel, told us at last month’s Email Insider Summit, Jenny is the company’s new target. She is much younger and tasked with buying for more family and pets.

This major shift in focus sparked both a full rebranding for Rite-Aid as well as a revamped media strategy that connects her online and offline behaviors across store, site, apps, social media and other media. At the center of it all remains the most resilient universal identifier: Jenny’s email address, which Tertel regards as his “orchestration channel.” You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.



MediaPost: Rite-Aid has been in the middle of a fundamental rebranding and new customer targeting. What’s the larger customer experience you're trying to build across channels?

Joe Tertel: Over the past year, what we've gone under is what we call our Rx Evolution, or pharmacy revolution. Two years ago when we were talking about who's our main customer, who do we want to continue to grow and go after, she was a woman, 65+. She was a strong pharmacy customer with us. She came to Rite-Aid every day. But that was a really short-term vision. 

This new idea is built around our new target audience: millennials. We call her Jenny. And what we like about Jenny is, she is a young woman, 25 to 54. She cares for a child, for her husband, for her parents, for pets -- and, if she has time, she cares for herself. 

I like to say, in the retail world, buy one, get four free. If you can get Jenny on your email list and get her as a customer, you’re now generating much more business for yourself across multiple categories, across multiple channels, just by targeting this one individual. 

So we changed everything we did.

Jenny is looking for traditional and alternative remedies. As an example, you could get specific medicine for sleep, or you can have a sleep blanket, or you can think about different vitamins to take instead of having always to go to our pharmacy. We've brought this to life everywhere for Jenny, including our logo.

So it allows Rite-Aid to support her in everything that she does for her total health and wellness. We're looking at Jenny as a whole person, not just a prescription, as we used to a couple years ago.

MP: So targeting a younger demo made you rethink your whole communication strategy to accommodate Jenny’s different behaviors. 

Tertel: Email becomes foundational in everything that we do. So Jenny's on mobile, but she's also on our websiteshe’s on her app, she's in store experiencing all the great things that we have in-store, new store layouts. So it's really about putting Jenny in the middle and then understanding how we reach her at all those different points. What is she buying, what behavior she's taken on the website or in-store -- and then, how do we target her in other areas? What is that real-time response? 

MP: You’ve referred to email as the orchestration channel that helps you build workflows and scenarios. How does email sit at the center of these tactics? 

Tertel: When we talk about orchestration, we're talking about where do these channels fit in the customer journey? So think of our team as the music writers, sitting in the pit really getting the work done to bring the symphony to life. And where does email fit?

The example is an abandoned cart. She abandons a cart on our website or in our mobile app. Everyone immediately thinks of email, but there are all [these] other channels that we can use. There's Facebook, there's social, there's display, there’s search. We can’t shoot all those at the same time. It’s really about orchestrating those, thinking about frequency, thinking about timing.

If she receives that email immediately, and she doesn't make a purchase, well then maybe I want to show her a Facebook ad a day later. Then that next email might come a day after that. Or we get down to the hour, so looking at four hours, eight hours. Just building up that frequency and trying to shorten that buy window as fast as possible, so we can get Jenny back into our stores.

MediaPost: When you say you've got a really solid data structure, what does that look like?

Tertel: Our loyalty program is Wellness+. A large percentage of our customers that come into our stores use their Wellness+ membership to buy from us. Wellness+ starts with a unique user ID, your Wellness+ number, and then we tie that number to an email address. By tying those two things together, we can now look at people [who] come into the store.

They use that Wellness+ number, their phone number, [and] we can tie that to an activity or purchase that was made or an activity they’ve done on the website. And that email address sits in the middle of everything that we do, because an email address is what we need to send to Facebook, or we need to send to Adobe Ad Cloud, to be able to target individuals outside on the open web. So email becomes really important, and email’s tied one-to-one with that loyalty number.

MP: What are the key data points in building Jenny’s profile?  

Tertel: So we're looking at her transactional data, what is she buying online and in store. We're looking at her online behavior, so we're looking at what pages she's visiting on the website, what are those products she's viewing on the website, category she's viewing, content articles that she's reading?

Then we enrich that data with channel data, so we can, again, bring in everything together. So from an email perspective, what emails is she opening, what emails is she clicking, what content is she clicking through?

From a display piece, what banner ads is she being impressed by or clicking through, what keywords is she searching on to come to our website from Google search?

So utilizing all the channel data, website behavioral data, transactional data and then any other data that Jenny gives us. Is she telling us her gender, is she telling us her age, is she telling us by some of the behavior that she has a pet? Those types of things, that’s the other data that we really use to enrich everything that we're doing so that we can provide and personalize that content to Jenny and to our other customers.

MP: What have you learned so far about consumer receptivity to this kind of surround-sound messaging?

Tertel: Not all journeys are equal. Not all customers are equal. We evaluate whether we can drive an extra visit or drive additional sales within a single visit. So we look at that a lot, and that's one of the things that we've learned from putting all this together: What are those additional touch points that we can do to ultimately help either one of those drive frequency or drive increases in her basket? 

MP: How do you ensure that everyone across the teams is aware of what everyone else is doing?

Tertel: For us it was really simple. I asked a random question, “How many people are subscribed to our email list on my team?” And it was that simple. Just making sure that everybody on the team and the other teams are subscribed to your emails, so they understand everything that you're putting out there.

An email marketing manager can say, “oh, wait, that's pretty cool content that they're building -- or, oh wow, I have really cool content that I'm doing here in social that could really impact or really improve an email campaign.” So being open and just that basic thing was just game-changing for us.

MP: For this RX Evolution project, what are the main KPIs that you're aiming at now to gauge its effectiveness?

Tertel: Performance is still super-important, and understanding how are we driving that sale. How do we drive frequency? How do we drive additional sale within that basket -- still probably one of the most important things that we do.

But we've also started to take a look at upper funnel. How do we generate that awareness, and how do we generate interest or consideration for us?

And then the other thing that’s super important to us is the makeup of our customer database. And if you think of our customer database as a pie, what is Jenny's slice right now? How do we continue to grow that slice so that we know longer-term that's going to be effective for us as an organization? 

MediaPost: Finally, have you been surprised by anything or learned a major lesson so far?

Tertel: Looking at those KPIs in different ways and understanding that it’s okay to change your KPIs at any given time, as you learn more and you get more data around it. That's one of the big things that we've learned.

The other thing that we've learned is, as you invest in any ESP or CDP or whatever your tools are, understand the limitations. Try to push as far as you possibly can, and then, all right, this is the edge of the universe.

But how do I either bring in other partners to support what I'm trying to do, or how do I work within this tool to accomplish my goal? So I think that's one of the things that we've learned is that even though we've spent a lot, it still doesn't do everything.

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