Poll: Shoppers Dissatisfied with Balance Rewards

Walgreens launched Balance Rewards in September 2012, jumping into the loyalty card race with CVS and Rite Aid. The debut of Balance Rewards came as the retailer was trying to lure back many customers who left in 2012 because of insurance issues. CEO Greg Wasson remarked that the card would become “a new kind of currency” in Walgreens stores and that customers would be “delighted.” A poll released today finds that shoppers may not agree with that sentiment, with many expressing confusion and dissatisfaction with the program.

Redeeming points on purchases is a major feature of Balance Rewards, but a full 60 percent of members do not know how to redeem points or check their balance. Of course, you need to earn points in order to actually use them, but more than two-thirds of members do not feel that it’s easy to earn rewards with the card, and 75 percent find that the deals don’t fit with what they usually buy. Almost six-in-ten shoppers (57 percent) feel either dissatisfied or ambivalent about their overall savings since using the program.

We took to the streets of New York City and Los Angeles to interview real Balance Rewards members and ask, “Do you know how the program works?”


Walgreen Strategy Watch, a corporate transparency initiative of Change to Win, commissioned Kelton Research to conduct the poll in May of 2013.  Kelton pollsters reached 2,139 Walgreens customers including 1,134 Balance Rewards members. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.9 percentage points (for members) and 3.1 percentage points (for non-members) from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.