“Contagion” and the Heated Competition in Promoting Flu Shots for Healthcare Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

contagionIn the hit movie “Contagion,” a new strain of flu virus starts in Asia and spreads quickly until it reaches a global pandemic, killing tens of millions of people of all ages. For maximum impact, it’s likely that the movie studio timed this release to coincide with the fall flu vaccines, which will have 166 million doses available over this year’s season.

Fun stuff in fiction. And the blockbuster movie tie-in is a useful promotional hook for healthcare marketing of flu shots.

Upwards of 20 percent of flu shots last year were distributed through retailers like supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies. If your initiative is to break through the competitive hoop-la, you’ll want to be creative about it. Here’s a quick roundup of some past and prospective promotions as idea starters to help you stand out in the crowd:

  • Winn-Dixie’s What-A-Deal Prevention Program – In September 2011, Winn-Dixie launched a two-week promotion offering a five-dollar discount off its $29.99 vaccination, as well as five free grocery items, such as apples, orange juice and hand sanitizer, to patients who get inoculated.
  • Safeway’s 10 Percent Grocery Discount – Safeway offers flu shots at more than 1,100 stores with pharmacies across the country. This giant chain promotes the convenience of making appointments or accommodating walk-ins, evening and weekend hours, and accepting most insurance plans. Plus, each Safeway flu shot comes with a 10 percent discount coupon for groceries.
  • Supervalu’s $45 Coupon Book – This fall, Supervalu, which is the nation’s number three supermarket chain by sales, is offering a coupon book with $45 worth of deals on products like frozen vegetables, bottled water and vitamins for individuals who have their flu shot there.

A Possible Promotional Idea: “Contagion” Movie Tickets. Perhaps your location marketing could include a 2-for-1 discount for movie tickets to see “Contagion” after getting a flu shot at your institution.

With major retailers now onboard, vaccinations are among many healthcare services that are part of an extremely competitive marketplace. Thinking outside the box helps create promotional platforms that attract patients and repeat business.

How are you differentiating your healthcare marketing for common and competitive services? We’d love to hear from you about this or other unique promotions.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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