Meijer is the first to give customers free at-home COVID-19 PCR tests

Photo: The Home Depot
Feb 03, 2022

Meijer has announced that its retail pharmacy will be the first to offer free, at-home COVID-19 PCR tests to customers.

In partnership with a testing company called eTrueNorth, Meijer will be providing home PCR tests for pickup at the store. Customers will first have to register for a test online and, after filling out an assessment, will receive a voucher which can be redeemed for a test at a Meijer location. Customers conduct the nasal swab test at home and return the completed test kit to a Meijer pharmacy location, where it is then sent off for analysis. Results are available between 48 and 72 hours after dropping off the test.

The PCR test, named for the polymerase chain reaction technique used to get the test results, is considered the gold standard in COVID-19 testing, as its accuracy is near 100 percent. The other major type of COVID-19 test, the antigen test, generates much faster results than the PCR test but can be less accurate when used by people with low viral loads in their system.

The free at-home COVID-19 tests recently provided by the U.S. Federal Government in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service are at-home antigen rapid tests.

Other options for free COVID-19 testing at pharmacies appear to stop short of offering free at-home testing. Walgreens, for instance, offers three types of free drive-thru testing online — PCR, rapid molecular and rapid antigen — but on the same website sells at-home PCR test kits for between $99 and $125. Additionally, the website informs customers on how to file a reimbursement claim with their insurance provider for the at-home tests if they are insured, and notes that, due to the Omicron wave of the novel coronavirus, slots for drive-thru testing are extremely limited.

There have also been issues of scarcity with at-home PCR tests at retail pharmacies over the past few months. Even Amazon was having trouble securing the tests in December, and limited customers to purchasing no more than 10 at-home PCR tests according to NBC News. Walgreens instituted a four-kit purchase limit and CVS a six-kit limit.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What will Meijer get out of its free PCR test offer? How do you expect Meijer’s competitors to respond?

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"Building up goodwill by making expensive or difficult-to-access home tests free to shoppers is a winning move."

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9 Comments on "Meijer is the first to give customers free at-home COVID-19 PCR tests"

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Carol Spieckerman

Meijer’s free testing will obviously be a traffic driver but it also exemplifies the retailer’s values around community outreach. Meijer is once again proving that regional retailers often lead the charge, challenging others’ excuses.

Liza Amlani

The philosophy and brand power of Meijer is rooted in its investment in local communities.

They are providing a service no one offers and it’s a wonderful thing to see. They will increase brand loyalty but they are also reiterating and truly standing true to their brand values and serving their customers an community with a one-stop shop experience for all their needs — including health services.

Lisa Goller

This is a smart differentiation move for Meijer to drive sales as certain rivals position themselves as healthcare destinations. Offering PCR tests will make Meijer top-of-mind for grocery and pharmacy essentials among more shoppers. In response, rivals may match this move.

Gary Sankary

Meijer provides their customers with a service, they get to build a deeper connection with their customers, and they support their brands as the one-stop shop for all their customers’ needs. This will drive loyalty and give customers another reason to be in a Meijer store.

Jennifer Bartashus

Building up goodwill by making expensive or difficult-to-access home tests free to shoppers is a winning move. It will create instant loyalty which could play out for years to come. Grocers played a huge role in getting people vaccinated, it makes sense to play a big role in ongoing testing as well.

David Spear

This is one of many examples of Meijer’s values put into action. They continue to be a strong leader and outperform the biggest of competitors, and shoppers respond! The loyalty of a Meijer shopper is high and they will go out of their way to find a store vs pulling into a competitor parking lot. Obviously this tactic galvanizes mindset and insulates them from shopper switching, which erodes customer life time value. Hip hip hooray for Meijer!

Georganne Bender

What will Meijer get out of its free PCR test offer? A whole lot of local goodwill.

DeAnn Campbell

Meijer’s move is another demonstration of their brand values, which are deeply rooted in supporting local communities. It’s also a clear expression of how important a part retailers can play in helping to solve socio-economic problems by making effective solutions easily accessible to consumers.

Steve Montgomery

I have seen simlar actions thaken by other retailers during my career. All have enjoyed greater customer loyaity as a result. Will others follow let’s hope so.

"Building up goodwill by making expensive or difficult-to-access home tests free to shoppers is a winning move."

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