Rite Aid is rolling out a new branding strategy, Rx Evolution, that reimagines the retail drugstore as an advocate for whole-being health. As part of the new approach, pharmacists are set to play a much more interactive role – essentially, as front-and-center advisors who can inform customers about alternative remedies that complement standard treatments.

The new strategy “elevates pharmacists as the everyday weapon used by providers and health plans to help keep patients and members connected to their care teams, adherent to their medications, aware of their care gaps and educated – even enlightened – on a broader spectrum of remedies that go well beyond traditional medicines,” said Rite Aid COO Jim Peters.

Peters detailed the strategic shift during a HLTH VRTL 2020 session on Wednesday. Its rollout in Rite Aid stores will commence within the next few weeks.

The Rite Aid revamp arrives in the wake of similar efforts by CVS and Walgreens. It includes tighter integration with Elixir, the chain’s pharmacy benefit management company, designed to fill a services gap for corporate customers.

Instead of keeping pharmacists “stuck behind a production wall filling pill bottles,” Peters said that Rx Evolution shifts that work to pharmacy technicians and balances workday activities around peak volume times, thus allowing pharmacists to remain out in the front of the store engaging with customers. Rite Aid has certified its 6,300-plus pharmacists as integrative pharmacy specialists so that they are qualified to educate consumers about a wide range of non-traditional treatments.

“Our pharmacists are embracing this new role and they love the fact that they’re engaging in a way that they envisioned when they actually chose to become pharmacists,” Peters said.

That engagement includes the creation of virtual care rooms. This gives Rite Aid pharmacists in-store space in which they can consult with customers and connect them with community-based care teams or other providers as appropriate.

Peters added that Rite Aid has a “new growth target audience” for its store of the future: Millennial and Gen-X women, who comprise about half of drugstore shoppers. He noted that they expect “a cohesive, curated retail experience, with merchandise that has health-and-wellness attributes they care most about… like natural, clean, organic, cruelty-free, fair trade and chemical-free.”

Accordingly, Rite Aid is overhauling its product mix to move beyond acute and chronic illness and focus on revitalizing solutions in four areas: sleep, stress, anxiety and immunity. Those areas align with the company’s new tagline, “Don’t Just Get Healthy, Get Thriving.”

To meet this tech-savvy consumer where she lives, Rite Aid has upgraded its digital experience, a move designed to improve what Peters characterized as the pre-shop phase of the customer journey.  This includes wellness-focused messaging on social media and digitized (and print) circulars “that better reflect a more modern, current, better-for-you set of merchandise,” Peters explained.