CVS edges Walgreens in consumer choice study

January 24, 2014

When it comes to filling prescriptions at retail pharmacies, CVS is the top consumer choice, followed closely by Walgreens.

When it comes to filling scripts at retail pharmacies, a shopper behavior study indicates CVS is the top consumer choice, followed closely by Walgreens. Consumers preferring mail-order pharmacies comprised less than a third of those choosing CVS. 

The Integer Group and M/A/R/C

Research conducted the study, putting questions to 1,200 consumers about their shopping attitudes, shopping behaviors, and economic outlook. They were also asked to rank their priorities for shopping at their preferred retail pharmacy.

“Recognizing differences across retailers and what shoppers are looking for in each store opens up opportunities to further personalize and connect with
individual shoppers, and allows retailers to make the in-store experience a positive one by knowing what their shoppers’ priorities are,” said Craig Elston, senior vice president, insight & strategy, The Integer Group.

Out of the 78% of study respondents who fill prescriptions at a retail pharmacy, 23% chose CVS and 19% Walgreens. Mail-order pharmacy was the preference of 7%, a higher percentage than Target, Costco, or Sam’s Club pharmacies received.

The study also provided insight into why consumers choose certain pharmacies. CVS shoppers (68%) were most concerned with quality; Wal-Mart shoppers (58%) focused on cost. Priorities for Walgreens pharmacy customers were speedy prescription fills and convenient locations, while Rite Aid customers identified price as the most important factor in their choice of pharmacy.

The study also found that 67% of Baby Boomers choose a pharmacy based on relationships with pharmacists; 50% of study respondents most often rely on general practitioners for health information; and 50% said they regularly read nutrition labels.

Brick-and-mortar
pharmacies preferred

While the use of mail-order pharmacies has increased, the study showed that most shoppers still prefer filling prescriptions at brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Seven percent of shoppers chose mail-order, compared to 78% who continue to fill their scripts at a retail pharmacy.

Mail-order pharmacy use among people 65 and older (15%), however, was more than double that of the general population (7%). The study concluded that this difference in mail-order pharmacy usage is probably attributable to Medicare.

In addition, the study credits retail pharmacies with creating programs designed to bring shoppers back to the store. The study specifically cited CVS ExtraCare, Walk with Walgreens, and Rite Aid’s Wellness Ambassadors.

“This is a bonus for shoppers, because 30% of shoppers like to continue shopping while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled,” the study said.

 

More health-conscious

The study revealed that both men and women are taking a more proactive
approach to healthcare. However, women respondents were more health-conscious, with almost 60% saying they regularly think about their eating habits.

“Overall, women and men are both adopting proactive health behaviors, but women are doing so more consciously,” the study said.

Those proactive behaviors include cooking at home, taking vitamins or supplements, reading nutritional information on labels, buying whole grains, and thinking about the safety of food. Other proactive behaviors included joining a health club, eating organic foods, counting calories, attending fitness classes, and going online to search for products.

Study conclusions

Researchers said the study results have clear implications for brands and retailers. They include:

1. Understanding that shoppers’ needs vary. “Even though the pharmacy is a necessity-driven trip, shoppers still seek an enjoyable experience. Retailers have the opportunity to tap into who their shoppers are and what enjoyable means to them,” the study said.

2. Emphasizing pharmacists. “Retailers can bring their pharmacists to the forefront by helping them spend more time with patients, providing tools that aid in answering patient questions, and allowing them to get to know customers who are frequent visitors,” the study said.

3. Targeting wider audiences. “Retailers will need to change their communication strategy and develop ways for credible pharmacists to remain a resource for younger generations,” the report said.

4. Embracing proactive consumers. “With a consistent buzz in our society, retailers and brands have a chance to continue having the health conversation with their customers, but also push themselves to differentiate what their health positioning is as a company, both in-store and online,” the report said.