A Beacon Of Hope: A Case Study On Location-Based Marketing


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A Case Study: Rite Aid's Latest Marketing Campaign

In January 2016, Rite Aid installed proximity beacons into each of its stores across the U.S. By the time the installation was complete, all of its (at the time) 4,500 stores had been outfitted with beacons. This move awarded them with the bragging rights of having the largest beacon technology installation push in a retail setting, a crown previously worn by Macy’s in 2014.

Fast forward two years, and Rite Aid is back in the limelight with a brand new marketing strategy. Emboldened by “The Great Beacon Migration Of 2016,” the pharmacy corporation feels that now is the best time to open the floodgates of marketing strategy. Of course, we'll break down the key methods that Rite Aid used to prepare themselves for their latest advertising adventure. In this blog case study, Hollywood Branded examines and explains how Rite Aid Targets Consumers Using Location Based Marketing.

A Beacon Of Hope A Case Study On Location-Based Marketing

A Beacon Of Hope

Beacon technology is uniquely innovative as it delivers e-commerce style personalized to in-store customers. This was an ability previously monopolized by internet only retailers, such as Amazon. By surveying what pages/products their customers scroll past and explore, online retailers can know exactly what you, the online consumer, is surfing the internet aisles for. Try this in real life, and you’ll find yourself very frustrated when the cashier doesn’t have the best deals on that very specific, niche item catalog you didn’t even know you wanted.

How Beacon Technology Works

Credit: Business Insider 

This is why Rite Aid sought out a partnership with mobile shopper marketing firm inMarket, which produces its own Bluetooth beacons for iOS and Android. 4,500 stores later, and the two have know found themselves at the center of beacon related attention.

inMarket’s penetration into the beacon industry has been largely propelled by their strategic partnerships. They’ve formed symbiotic relationships with various brick and mortar brands, like Rite Aid, to provide beacons that respond to the Rite Aid app. inMarket gains access to Rite Aid’s shopper data, and Rite Aid gains access to inMarket’s 42 million monthly active users as well as their own app’s fan base.

The Result: A Win Win.

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Crispy Or Soft: Effectiveness of Beacons

Put plainly, beacons are incredibly effective. In 2015, the value of in-store retail sales directly influenced by beacon-activated messages in the US was $4.1 billion. By 2016, beacons were expected to trigger sales worth $44.4 billion.



“The places people shop, both online and off, are key indicators of who they are and what they want to buy." - inMarket



The beacons work in tandem with smartphone apps using a Bluetooth signal in-store. Through push notifications, they send messages that include product information, promotions, and exclusive offers to activate coupons and loyalty rewards.

Beacons are primarily used to message relevant deals or content to shoppers while they’re in a store, to collect shopper data for future use, or both. They require apps to listen for them, otherwise they don’t actually do anything. inMarket’s strategy was to build relationships with apps that people already used, rather than convincing the masses to download something new.

Not only are they useful, but they’re also cheap. Hundreds of retailers have experimented with them over the past few years.

Yeah, we should all thank beacons.

Rite Aid’s total roll-out of beacons is all part of its master plan to drive downloads and usage of the retailer’s app. They plan to not only dominate other pharmacies, but the entire app space.

Fried Beacon: Setbacks Inspire Creativity

It’s now 2018 and Rite Aid has successfully installed thousands of beacons into its stores nationwide. With that progression, they’ve also gained a treasure trove of useful customer data.

But the past two years have not been short on…short comings. After a long planned merger with Walgreens, Boots Alliance collapsed after the disapproval of anti-trust authorities, the company concluded to sell 2,186 of it’s 4,600 notes to Walgreens for $5.18 billion.

The merger would have created a group with more outlets than CVS Health, the biggest drugstore chain by market capitalization at the time. 

They also failed to merge with Albertsons, CO earlier this year. Another unplanned setback.

Rite Aid was left with a smaller store base, but one with some of the best performing locations. It will be concentrated on the West Coast, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

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Havas’ BLT: Beacons, Location, & Timing

Rite Aid has targeted the locations mentioned above to develop specifically tailored messaging as a part of a broader, nationwide flu campaign. The pharmacy seeks to urge people of all ages to get a flu shot in order to create flu-free communities.

Through an integrated marketing initiative rolling out this month, Rite Aid will be using radio, TV, social media, mobile, out-of-home and public relations, along with a comprehensive digital marketing plan to kick off the 2018-2019 flu immunization campaign.

Rite Aid will also use professionally certified immunizers and people with diverse backgrounds to recreate “life moments.” From birthdays to family vacations, these are the moments that you’d hate to miss because of sickness.


Video Credit: Rite Aid


The company will also be relying on in-store signage to show off how “easy” it is to take your child to Rite Aid for a flu shot.

Ultimately though, Rite-Aid would like to satisfy their customers to the fullest potential and increase their brand and presence.

Flu_Immunizations_Photo Credit: Rite Aid

Another focus for Havas will be Rite Aid’s existing loyalty program, “wellness + rewards.” The agency plans to build on that program by creating new programs to bring value to rewards members and to drive new customers.

How are they going to do this? They have quite a lot of costumer data, data that they collected through their beacon program. According to David Abelman, Rite Aid executive vice president of marketing, this data has allowed Rite Aid to become very confident in their marketing efforts.



“We have, we think, one of the most developed and progressive loyalty programs in all of retail,” Abelman said.






Photo Credit: Rite Aid

And this is where it all comes home. By getting ahead of the curve through their implementation of beacons in 2016, Rite Aid has been able to collect over two years of customer catered information. They know that x customer enjoys x things, and y customer enjoys y things. The data has completely driven new store formats. The chain has even made “better-for-you versions” (B4Y) of popular items - like baked potato chips and an aluminum-free deodorant.

B4Y coconut water

Photo Credit: Rite Aid

Finally, Havas wants to highlight the company’s humanitarian efforts. Since 2001, the Rite Aid Foundation has given more than $41.5 million to non profit organizations for various causes. Their involvement in communities and neighborhoods are exactly the kinds of stories that Havas hopes to tell in the future. Their “KidCents” program even gives members of the loyalty program the option to round up in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar to donate to charities focused on improving health and well being of children in Rite Aid’s communities. This is similar to the round up technology found in finance investing apps such as “Acorns.”



Rite Aid Corp. spent an estimated $13.9 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media. Their efforts to redact the setbacks of the previous years can clearly be seen with their intense marketing push. By teaming up with a new marketing agency to focus their efforts on branding, Rite Aid is continuing to pressure its competitors to rethink how they engage with consumers. 

Other brands and businesses can take a cue form Rite Aid's revamped marketing strategy. It may be beneficial to scour the landscape to find the newest marketing tools. If Rite Aid did not adopt Beacon technology so early, they may not have had the adequate consumer data necessary to develop an effective campaign. 

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