After over 18 months of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are more aware than ever that “healthcare” goes beyond just an annual doctor’s appointment — as total wellness is an important element of the health of consumers both physically and financially.
To tap the trend and drive it, Walgreens announced Monday (Aug. 16) the launch of a new branded credit card issued by Synchrony Bank that will reward consumers not only for purchases made at Walgreens and other merchants, but also for doctors’ appointments, gym memberships and prescriptions.
Plans for co-branded credit cards with Synchrony and Mastercard were first announced earlier this year, though details were scarce at the time.
David Parkes, senior vice president of co-branded products at Synchrony, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster that the myWalgreens Mastercard was designed to reward people for healthy choices, whatever that may mean for the individual consumer.
“We’ve tried to design a macro construct that provides the framework for people of all types and with all needs to get rewarded for this healthy lifestyle,” he said.
The new branded credit card will provide consumers with 10 percent Walgreens Cash rewards on Walgreens-branded products and 5 percent rewards on all other Walgreens purchases. Cardholders will also earn 3 percent rewards on other grocery, health and wellness purchases outside of Walgreens — including visits to healthcare providers — and 1 percent rewards anywhere else Mastercard is accepted.
Maria Smith, who became vice president of financial services at Walgreens in February, told Webster that as she’s learned more about health and wellness, she’s found there are a lot of “pain points” for consumers. “Our loyalty product is really working on how to improve that overall health and wellness piece, and this is a product that will help amplify that for our members,” Smith said.
PYMNTS’ Connected Economy research has found that about 33 percent of all consumers, and 51 percent of millennials, are highly connected when it comes to their health. Importantly for Walgreens and Synchrony, 29 percent of highly connected consumers use store-branded cards to make purchases.
Smith said that as Walgreens learns more about how customers spend on products for their health and wellness, the myWalgreens card program will continue to develop. “This is just the foundation, it’s just the groundwork,” she told Webster. “We’ll evolve from here.”
A Super Healthy App
After a customer is approved for a line of credit, the myWalgreens card will be immediately integrated into the Walgreens app and mobile wallet, allowing cardholders to manage their account, make purchases and pay bills without leaving the Walgreens ecosystem.
PYMNTS has previously reported that large shares of consumers are open to the creation of a “super portal,” or a single app or website that allows users to establish a single digital identity that would store and share information about their life. According to PYMNTS research, 41 percent of consumers would want to include payment features or shopping data in such a “super portal,” and nearly 35 percent would want health and wellness data included.
“The benefit of having all of these financial services and payments functions underneath one organization is that we can ensure we have a seamless experience across the board,” Smith said. Going forward, Smith said Walgreens intends to continue investing in providing differentiated financial products.
New Customer Touchpoints
The new credit card is also part of Walgreens’ larger push to create a more personalized experience for customers by reinventing its membership program, which had grown to 75 million members by the end of the company’s third quarter in May.
In December, the drug store chain also unveiled the Walgreens Advertising Group, which uses “advanced data modeling” to connect brands directly with audiences in a digital ecosystem. Walgreens has also been introducing in-store advertising on the glass doors of its chilled and frozen foods section through a partnership with ad-tech startup Cooler Screens.
New CEO Rosalind Brewer, who joined Walgreens in January after serving as chief operating officer of Starbucks, is expected to deliver a strategic evaluation and long-range business plan for the company later this year.