How CVS Won My Loyalty

On any given day my kitchen table is guaranteed to be cluttered with coupons. Store coupons to no less than three different stores, manufacturer coupons received at samplings or in the mail [or on the job] and even some I printed off the internet.

Now ask me how many of those coupons actually make it to the store with me…

Yep, none! I mean, even the “FREE ORANGE JUICE,” which I drink a gallon of a week, just sits there collecting crumbs never to see the fluorescent lights of the supermarket.

None!

Most of my shopping is done on the “way home,” on the “way out” or at some time in between. My shopping list is an ongoing digital project that lives in my smartphone and is adapted at the random times I am reminded of something I need/want, like when I pass someone eating something delicious in the window of a cafe on my way to work.

Any new recipes I find go straight into my Pepperplate account, an online database of recipes that syncs with my iPhone and iPad apps. When a friend sends me an idea to try in the kitchen, it gets automatically filtered into a folder, appropriately titled “Yummy Things.” And I have a Pinterest page for every meal and eating occasion.

I live on-the-go, like most shoppers. Therefore, however good my intentions are to save money, paper coupons and I are not good friends.

But, and here is what you have been waiting for, send me a digital coupon and I am all yours.

Many years ago, at the ripe age of 16, I took my first “real job” at CVS Pharmacy. I spent my after-school hours and weekends up until college “facing” shelves, assisting shoppers and working my way up to “head cashier.” (Yeah, I was a big deal in the local CVS!) I even sought out a position at the CVS in my college town when I ran out of money a couple years later.

The irony here is that since leaving this post, I have barely stepped foot in a CVS. It is just not convenient. There is a Rite Aid less than half a mile away from my house that I pass daily. There are Duane Reades galore around the Grocery Headquarters’ office in NYC. And I am in Stop & Shop a few times a week, where they have a pretty good selection of HBC that keeps me from having to make an extra stop. I had about as much interest in seeking out a CVS—the place where it all started; the store that I developed the roots to my current retail-oriented writing career—as I did my high school boyfriend.

CVS COUPONBut then this happened: I started getting emails from CVS telling me I had earned $5 or 20% off a purchase before a certain date. (I never canceled my loyalty program membership; does anyone?) The first few I printed and donated to the coupon project on the kitchen table. But then one day I clicked the little “send to card” button on the e-newlsetter. Nothing happened, other than the words “You now have 20% off” appeared on the screen. Hmmmm, ok.

I made a point to visit CVS that week. I dumped a large pile of stuff on the counter and after scanning it through the register, the guy helping me said, “You have 20%, would you like to use it?”

Why, yes, yes I would like to use it. Thank you for the offer.

And that was that. I was converted. I was once again a loyal CVS shopper. I go there for all my HBC items; I buy my birthday cards there; I even popped in for a half gallon of milk the other day because I knew I had a coupon. The store is still not the most convenient for me, but it is worth it to hear those seven words: “Would you like to use your coupon?”

The last time I stood at the counter in CVS I commented to the person assisting me about how convenient the loyalty program was, and that it is the main reason I shop at the store. I wondered out loud, “Why don’t more stores do this?”

“Well, we like that they don’t,” he replied, “but it is a very good question.”

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