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“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.

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