Customers give thumbs-up to supermarket pharmacies


Prevention Magazine and FMI release Whole Health 2003 survey



Customers give thumbs-up to supermarket pharmacies

The in-store pharmacy is an important point of differentiation for grocery stores, and customers value the services these pharmacies provide. Ed Slaughter, director of advertising and trend research at Rodale, Emmaus, Pa., told Drug Topics that this finding emerged from the Prevention magazine/Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2003 survey called Shopping for Health. The survey was conducted via telephone interviews during May 2003 by Princeton Survey Research Associates among a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults.

The survey also found that shoppers are satisfied with their current stores' selection of vitamins, minerals, and over-the-counter items; availability of healthful prepared foods; in-store pharmacy; and the store's ability to provide all shoppers with food and health needs in one place.

Shoppers would like to see improvements in the amount of health and nutrition information available, and they would like to have staff who can answer their questions about health and nutrition. Commenting on this finding, Slaughter said, "Having store staff who can answer questions about health and nutrition and offering health information in-store are two roles pharmacists and the pharmacy can clearly play."

According to the survey, 35% of shoppers feel the typical grocery store does the best job of providing everything a shopper needs to maintain his or her health, but 22% said a discount store does the best job.

Forty-six percent of shoppers said they'd go out of their way to shop for groceries in a store that teaches them about healthful eating and features products to help them do so.

The survey also revealed the following:

• One-third of shoppers have used an in-store pharmacy to fill a prescription. Thirty-five percent of shoppers have used an in-store pharmacy to fill a prescription for an acute condition and 33% to treat a chronic condition.

• Shoppers have different reasons for deciding where to fill their prescriptions. Twenty-six percent of grocery store shoppers said they don't use their supermarket's in-store pharmacy because the pharmacist at another location knows them better. Convenience is the main factor for supercenter shoppers, who said that they feel other prescription medicine outlets are more convenient.

• Fifty-nine percent of grocery store shoppers reported that their supermarkets have a full-service pharmacy with an R.Ph. on duty. Pharmacies are more common in supercenters, as 78% of supercenter shoppers said that their stores have pharmacies.

• The usage rate for grocery store pharmacies and supercenter pharmacies is about the same: 35% of grocery store shoppers and supercenter shoppers have used an in-store pharmacy to fill a prescription to treat an acute condition, such as an ear infection or a cold. Similar numbers, 34% of grocery store shoppers and 33% of supercenter shoppers, have used an in-store pharmacy to fill an Rx for a chronic condition, such as an allergy or high blood pressure.

• Shoppers with children are especially likely to use an in-store pharmacy when filling Rxs for acute conditions. Forty-seven percent of parents who regularly shop in supermarkets have filled this kind of Rx at the in-store pharmacy in the past year, compared with 33% of grocery store shoppers without children. Similarly, 53% of parents who regularly shop at supercenters have filled Rxs at the in-store pharmacy to treat acute conditions in the past year, versus 30% of supercenter shoppers without children.

• Between one-fifth and one-half of shoppers with access to an in-store pharmacy make use of the on-duty pharmacist as an information resource. Most shoppers approach the pharmacist with questions about OTCs. About one-third (32%) of grocery store shoppers and 36% of supercenter shoppers said they have consulted with an in-store pharmacist about a specific health concern.

• Only 20% of grocery store shoppers and 27% of supercenter shoppers have asked their in-store R.Ph. about vitamin and mineral supplements.

• Although shoppers still show a strong interest in a variety of information sources, compared with 1999, many of these sources are being used less often. The only information source showing an increase is the Internet. Sources that have retained steady usage levels are the store-based sources: displays and handouts in the store, pharmacists, and grocery store personnel.

• Baby boomers (39 to 57) are more likely than Gen X/Yers (18 to 38) to get their health information from television and pharmacists.

• Shoppers place a high importance on stores offering a wide selection of vitamins and minerals. Seventy-two percent said this is "very" or "somewhat" important, and 61% said their stores do an "excellent" or "good" job in this area. Having a wide selection of OTCs and treatments is also "very" or "somewhat" important to 69% of shoppers, and 61% feel their regular store does an "excellent" or "good" job at providing these products.

• More than half of shoppers who are parents said an in-store pharmacy is "very" important in an ideal store, compared with 40% of childless shoppers; 73% of single parents feel this service is "very" important, versus 46% of married parents.

• In-store pharmacies are important to 61% of minority shoppers (73% of African-American shoppers and 52% of Hispanic shoppers), compared with 41% of Caucasian shoppers.

Sandra Levy


Sandra Levy. Customers give thumbs-up to supermarket pharmacies. Drug Topics Dec. 8, 2003;147:61.

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