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Walgreens rewards health-conscious consumers, developers

Walgreens is letting consumers earn loyalty program points by connecting eligible health or fitness applications or devices to its Balance Rewards app program and awarding cash prizes to developers who find ways to integrate other programs with the app.

Besides rewarding customers for their healthy choices, the drugstore chain will award $13,000 in prizes for the best integration of the Walgreens app promoting a happy, healthy lifestyle. The campaign is an example of how mobile can play a role not only in building brand loyalty but in influencing positive changes in lifestyles.

“Through the growing health & fitness developer community, Walgreens is able to offer up a feature benefit that is highly complementary to existing apps and allow Walgreens to become a prominent member within the digital ecosystem,” said Joe Rago, senior product manager for digital at Deerfield, IL-based Walgreens.

“This extends the reach of our loyalty program, which benefits customers and developers alike.”

Integrating apps

Third-party app developers can enter the integrated-app contest, through Nov. 28, by going to the Balance Rewards App Challenge Page at Winners will be announced during the Walgreens session at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in Washington D.C., Dec. 7-11.

A $7,000 prize will be awarded for the best overall app integration. The prize will be based on the quality of the app integration idea, successful integration of the Balance Rewards API and impact for app customers to lead a happy and healthy life.

A $3,000 prize will be awarded for the integration that realizes the potential to increase healthy patient behavior and engagement while increasing or easing the ability to manage chronic conditions. A second $3,000 prize will be awarded for the app that ChallengePost users decide best integrates the rewards program and promotes a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Walgreens has focused for some time on using mobile to improve customer services.

Two years ago, it launched its QuickPrints API, which enabled photo apps to provide users with the convenience of sending photos directly to Walgreens for printing.

At that time, less than 1 percent of the company’s digital print business came from mobile. Today, 40 percent comes from mobile with more than 125 third-party photo app integrations.

The following year, the Prescription API was launched and allowed for seamless prescription refill and transfer capabilities for users of third-party apps.

Fitness devices and apps such as GenieMD, HoMedics, LifeTrak and Omron Fitness have integrated Walgreens’ Balance Rewards API that allows users to automatically earn points for healthy activities like walking, running and biking.

The call for integration ideas from third-party developers is an example of how Walgreens has embraced collaborations to spur consumer engagement with its wellness campaigns.

Last week, Walgreens extended its mobile pharmacy leadership via a new partnership with WebMD that will drive smartphone use for prescription refills and wellness-driven rewards.

WebMD consumers will be able to access prescription refill and scheduling appointment options for Walgreens via the WebMD Web site or their mobile devices. The partnership is set to come into full effect in the coming months, with both brands hoping that making trusted information easily available will improve wellness in America and promote positive decision-making.

Providing incentives

Walgreens plans to incorporate WebMD content in topics such as Healthy Eating, Fitness, Allergy and Cold & Flu into its digital experience and stores. This is an optimal way for Walgreens consumers to gain more information while shopping for specific health care products on their mobile devices or in stores.

The partnership is providing incentives to Walgreens customers making health-conscious choices through the Balance Rewards card.

“By opening our Balance Rewards API and tapping into the power of third-party development, we’re able to increase engagement by providing customers with the convenience of accessing Walgreens whenever, wherever and however they choose,” Mr. Rago said.

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.