For the first time in more than four decades, Rite Aid is rebranding. The drugstore chain revealed a new logo during an analyst call this week, as well as announcing a new strategy and store layout that it’s dubbed the “store of the future.”
Over the last couple years, Rite Aid has seen some “challenging” transaction numbers, according to Erik Keptner, svp and chief marketing and merchandising officer. In response, Rite Aid executives told investors on Monday that it will completely revamp stores, focusing on a new group of consumers to drive growth and overhauling the merchandise on its shelves to provide a more well-rounded approach to health and wellness.
Rite Aid also revealed a new logo, which ditches the classic red for a softer green. The company worked with Sway Creative Labs on the new logo design, which the leadership hopes will signal to consumers the “radical change” underway at Rite Aid.
Experts, however, are split on whether the new logo successfully communicates the goals of the turnaround.
Douglas Sellers, executive creative director at global brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale, thought that adding the green and softening the look is giving exactly the right impression.
“Design is a powerful tool to signal change, stand out and target new audiences,” Sellers said. The new branding signals “natural and organic,” he added, and helps “to move away from other competitors” and align with its stated purpose as a wellness company.
But Rita Plapler, partner at branding agency MBLM, found the new logo “underwhelming.”
“It is not particularly modern, and it looks more like a grocery or spa logo than a pharmacy,” added Plapler. “Given it’s hard to interpret what it means, it feels like a missed opportunity.” Still, making changes to the stores to create a more compelling retail experience is certainly a step in the right direction, she said.
With a new target demographic in mind—Gen X and millennial women—Rite Aid will be making several changes to the in-store experience this fall. On the shelves, its stores will stock more clean-label, cruelty-free and sustainable products, which the company’s consumer research data showed was a priority for its target audience, said Keptner.
That research also showed that Gen X and millennial women are interested not just in prescription medicine but a more holistic view of health that includes things like stress management, nutrition and caring for themselves, their children and older adults.
Store layout will also be revamped, freeing pharmacists from behind the counter to promote more direct interaction with customers. Based on the brand’s research, “the consumer wants to have a greater interaction with the pharmacist,” said Keptner. In addition to filling prescriptions and explaining dosing guidelines, pharmacists “are equipped to provide advice on holistic health,” he added.
The new stores will also feature technical and digital upgrades, incorporating tools like telehealth, and a brand refresh for the entire store. The company said it’ll start with nine pilot locations this fall and follow up with renovations of all retail locations by the end of 2021.
The entire announcement was meant to be made in person in Midtown Manhattan with an experiential walkthrough for investors to see for themselves, but the coronavirus pandemic compelled Rite Aid to cancel the in-person event. Instead, the presentation was given digitally after investors expressed an interest in learning about the new strategy.
The presentation also included a complete rundown of the efforts Rite Aid is making to protect its employees and consumers from COVID-19, including pandemic pay and work-from-home policies, new in-store cleaning procedures and steps to keep shelves stocked with generic drugs and household supplies.