• CVS/pharmacy Blogger Trip

    October 9, 2013

    Disclosure: CVS/pharmacy sponsored by hotel accommodations and meals during my stay in Rhode Island. The opinions expressed are honest and all my own.

    Recently, I was invited to the CVS/pharmacy headquarters in Woonsocket, Rhode Island for a two-day blogger event hosted by the brand.

    Obviously, I love CVS/pharmacy. Besides Whole Foods and Stop & Shop, CVS is the next place where Mal and I spend the most money. There’s a CVS/pharmacy right near our house, so I shop there all the time. My mom even bought me a CVS/pharmacy gift card for Christmas last year because I shop there so much. Long story short, I am really excited about this new partnership, and I am looking forward to what the future holds.

    And, without further ado, here’s my recap of my visit to the CVS/pharmacy headquarters!

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    The first day started with a buffet breakfast (veggie omelet with goat cheese = yum) followed by a number of presentations, which highlighted various CVS/pharmacy programs and updates.

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    All of the presentations were really interesting, and I sort of geeked out learning about all of the different ways I could save money at CVS/pharmacy. #nerdalert

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    We learned some fun statistics about the ExtraCare program, including one in three people in the U.S. have an ExtraCare card. Isn’t that nuts?

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    It was also neat to hear what CVS/pharmacy has been up to lately, including a re-design of their receipts. You guys know what I’m talking about, right? Those things are SO LONG! They are so long, in fact, a lot of customers have expressed their dissatisfaction with them.

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    One thing that came through loud and clear during my visit to CVS/pharmacy headquarters was just how much the company appreciates and seeks out feedback from their customers. Attached to the main CVS/pharmacy building is New England Opinion, a qualitative research group that conducts focus groups and works very closely with CVS/pharmacy. Besides focus groups, CVS/pharmacy has a mock store where they watch how consumers shop. They even use eye-tracking glasses that record the consumer’s field of view and where their eyes look first when they shop. Cool, right?

    Basically, CVS/pharmacy really cares about customer satisfaction, so they are constantly using research and feedback to improve their business, which includes shortening those crazy-long receipts. Here are some things they’ve done to make them shorter:

    • Shrinking barcodes
    • Reducing white space between text
    • Using more targeted/personalized coupons (mine would include Brach’s candy corn versus cat food coupons)
    • Offering more coupon categories ($3 off $15 worth of beauty products versus $2 off Pantene)
    • In-store coupon center (you can print your ExtraCare coupons before you start shopping)
    • Send to card option <— I love this, especially since I sometimes forget my coupons at home, but I always have my ExtraCare card on me, and it is just better for the environment.

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    Another cool thing that CVS/pharmacy has been up to is their Pharmacy & Health Rewards program, which is another way you can earn ExtraBuck rewards. You need to sign up for it separately from the ExtraCare program, but it’s worth it because it’s so easy to earn money back. For every 10 prescriptions you fill, you earn $5 ExtraBucks. I wish I knew about this program sooner because I fill so many prescriptions there! (I am all signed up and earning cash back now. Woohoo!)

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    The morning session also included a couple of interactive games to test our knowledge of CVS/pharmacy and its programs.

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    After the morning presentations, we broke for lunch, which included a number of healthy options.

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    Throughout the afternoon, snacks from the CVS Gold Emblem brand were available to munch on.

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    I chowed down on the Classic Trail Mix.

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    And, later that night, we received the most amazing Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels in our hotel rooms. The Gold Emblem brand is a lot better quality than I thought it was. I will definitely be on the hunt for those Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels since Mal and I ate them all in one sitting.

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    The afternoon started with a discussion and group focus group about My Weekly Ad, a new online tool that customizes your shopping experience at CVS/pharmacy.

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    CVS/pharmacy gave us all new iPad Minis to test it out!

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    I still can’t believe it. What an incredibly generous company!

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    My Weekly Ad is really cool. It basically takes your regional CVS/pharmacy circular, tailors it based on what you typically buy, and then highlights what’s on sale and what you can earn ExtraBucks on. Basically, it shows you all of the sales/deals at your local store, but organizes them by your personal preferences.

    Some cool features:

    • You can select products/deals and add them to a shopping list for easy access.
    • There’s an aisle locator, so you know exactly where to find things at your local store.
    • A sneak peak option (available on Thursdays) shows you what’s on sale the following week. <— I recently used this when I wanted to buy Crest White Strips. I waited until they went on sale the following week to get $10 off.

    As you can see, My Weekly Ad is a really useful, money-saving resource. I use it every week and have saved a bunch of money. It is especially useful when it comes to buying your favorite products because as soon as you see them go on sale, you can buy them at a reduced price. That way, you never pay full price. Long story short, if you’re a CVS fan, you will love this!

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    After a full day of presentations, we headed back to the hotel for some spa treatments featuring Salma Hayek’s new beauty collection, Nuance, which is sold exclusively at CVS/pharmacy.

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    The Nuance collection includes everything from cosmetics and skin care to hair and body products.

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    All of the products were inspired by Salma’s grandmother and the entire collection is made from all natural ingredients. A bunch of them smelled really nice!

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    It was a fun experience, and I really enjoyed my manicure and hand massage!

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    After our spa sessions, everyone got ready to go to dinner at Local 121, which my manicurist told me was her favorite restaurant in the area. I was excited to dine there!

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    A number of CVS/pharmacy employees joined us for dinner, so it was nice to have the opportunity to chat with them.

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    I wish I could remember what story I was telling here! Haha!

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    The dinner menu was inspired by the Essence of Beauty collection at CVS/pharmacy.

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    It sounded a little weird, but it worked and dinner was delicious!

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    Inspired by Secret Woods: Spinach salad with pomegranate vinaigrette tossed with caramelized pears, chevre, and toasted walnuts.

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    Inspired by Wind Kissed: White amber smoked kabochi squash puree soup. <— Incredible!

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    Inspired by Forever Paris: Roasted chicken with potatoes dauphinoise and mushroom sauce.

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    Inspired by In the Tropics: Citrus semifreddo with pink grapefruit, edible flowers, and agave.

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    On Friday morning, we enjoyed a “very merry holiday breakfast,” which included a wonderful breakfast and first look at the 2013 holiday collection at CVS/pharmacy.

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    The room was totally decked out! Christmas in September!

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    The decorations, music, and gingerbread lattes definitely put me in the holiday spirit!

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    We got to experience the holiday collection by doing a Yankee Swap at each of the tables. It was a lot of fun, and I ended up with a Mickey Mouse mug warmer. Haha!

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    The majority of the gifts were kid-orientated, but there were a lot of adult gifts too, like plush, super soft blankets and even a wine cabinet. Who knew CVS/pharmacy sold such fancy things?

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    The final session of the day combined beauty product sneak peeks (I’ll share them in a future post – I want to try them first) and celebrated 50 years of CVS/pharmacy. The first store opened in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1963.

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    Happy birthday, CVS/pharmacy!

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    All in all, my trip to CVS/pharmacy headquarters was a great one. I’m excited to see how our new partnership unfolds!

    Questions of the Day

    Are you a CVS fan? What do you love most about it?

    Are you an ExtraCare card user? What do you think of those long receipts? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?

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    { 74 comments… read them below or add one }

    Emily October 10, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I am so glad they are doing something about those long receipts! Every time I go and use the self check-out I awkwardly stand there as the receipt prints … and prints … and prints …

    Reply

    Michelle Lahey October 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I can’t stand CVS’s long receipts. I shop there all the time, but always end up recycling my receipts because I hate having all that paper in my purse. I’d save so much more money there if I actually used those coupons!

    Reply

    Amanda Sutherland October 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    CVS is my absolute favorite. I’ve gotten the extra care bucks and coupons down to a science, so I very frequently walk out of there paying very little! I never, ever pay full price for my stuff! Great post, love all the cool stuff they are working on!

    Reply

    Katie October 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I think that your readers need to start viewing your blog more like a magazine. It is a business and all. Maybe you could write a post explaining a bit more about how sponsored posts work. However, next time you get a gift of significant value, like an I-Pad, maybe note it up in the disclaimer.
    Thanks for all the great content!!!

    Reply

    Tina October 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I said I received the iPad Mini for free from CVS right in my post. Would you rather see that info at that start of my post? Do you think most people don’t read through the whole post and might miss it? Just trying to pick your brain! 😄

    Reply

    Katie October 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I would put the note about the iPad up top with the note on accommodations / food. That way it is clear what you got from the event/host. When I first read your post I wasn’t 100 percent sure you got to keep the iPad forever, because you said “try out”. I just read a post on SarahFit about the Jawbone Up, Sarah noted that she will have to give it back soon. I do think that people may have missed your note in the post, I often scan and read posts in pieces. However, I think the backlash has more to do with the role you play. I think you are seen as independent media and thus expected to be organic and free of corporate influence. It is an interesting role seeing as bloggers have become taste makers, especially in the healthy living community.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply

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