Demographics Significantly Influence Common Customer Behavior at Community Pharmacies


Researchers found various reasons for why individuals chose a specific pharmacy and how they purchase OTC medication.

In a 2-step cluster analysis performed in Greece, a significant number of participants mostly knew what they needed to purchase when they entered a pharmacy. They also stated that location, hours, and staff were the main factors in choosing a pharmacy.1

“Community pharmacies are the most accessible providers of primary health care to [the] community,” wrote authors of the study.1

Since community pharmacists typically serve as the first line of defense for the health care seeking population, it is important for them to provide the best care possible to retain customer loyalty and satisfaction, as well as increased profits, and to solidify a successful business model.

Key Takeaways

  • Researchers assessed the factors influencing customers’ common behaviors within their community pharmacy.
  • They separated participants into clusters to further stratify them by demographic.
  • Results yielded common behaviors for specific age groups and income levels.

“Competitive market environment requires from community pharmacies to develop an efficient marketing strategy in order to attract new clients, maintain their patronage and develop customer loyalty,” continued the authors.1 “An improvement of the business model of community pharmacies appears to be a necessary reaction on the increased competitive pressure.”

In this study, researchers aimed to assess the factors influencing customers’ common behaviors within their community pharmacy. Questioning and analyzing individuals with various preferences in pharmacy experience, the clustered study design was chosen to determine the specific demographics that influenced customers’ behavior.

Customers in line at a local pharmacy. | image credit: bernardbodo /

Customers in line at a local pharmacy. | image credit: bernardbodo /

Examining the Common Behaviors in Each Cluster

Participants of the study were first asked to answer a series of questions regarding their common behaviors when visiting a community pharmacy. They were asked about specific factors that influenced their pharmacy selection and purchase of OTC drugs.

Of 300 individuals (62% women; mean age 50.3), participants were then separated into 3 clusters, each with a smaller sample size than the last.

In the first and largest cluster (49% of participants), individuals were determined as “convenience customers” because they didn’t always visit the same pharmacy, preferred a formal relationship with their pharmacist, and considered location and hours as the most important factors in choosing a pharmacy.

The “convenience” moniker applied to cluster 1 was in line with the participants’ younger mean age (43.5) compared with other clusters. Researchers claim that convenience is the biggest factor for younger people because they see pharmacies as drug-sellers rather than primary care providers.1

In the second cluster (35% of participants), however, the mean age was 57. They were deemed as “loyalty customers” because they preferred a familiar relationship with their pharmacist, almost always visited the same pharmacy to purchase medication, and usually knew exactly what they needed to purchase before visiting.

Researchers deemed cluster 2 participants as loyal because of their increased value of pharmaceutical services and products.1

“This finding is consistent with those of previous studies indicating that elderly customers display high pharmacy patronage,” wrote the authors.1

Finally, in the third and smallest cluster (16% of participants), researchers deemed these individuals as “convenience and price-sensitive customers” because of their mainly retired, unemployed, or low-income statuses, which researchers said influenced their preferences of choosing lower-priced drugs and nearby pharmacies.1

READ MORE: Local Pharmacy Access in the United States Significantly Lower in Rural Areas

Common Behaviors Across All Clusters

While each cluster yielded different behaviors among the population of pharmacy customers, researchers extracted the common occurrences that can somewhat generalize the population’s behaviors when choosing and visiting a pharmacy.

“In regard to the selection of pharmacy, most participants stated that they prefer to make their purchases always or most of the time in a specific pharmacy,” wrote the authors.1

“Regarding the consumers’ purchase patterns of OTC medicines, about half of the participants stated that they exactly know what they need when purchasing OTC medicines,” they continued.1

Despite customers often knowing what they need before entering a pharmacy, researchers claim that customer loyalty is best reinforced by pharmacists’ proactive approach to gaining and retaining customers.1

Participants valued personal connection with their pharmacists as well as the opinions of their pharmacists when unsure of choosing specific OTC medications, further reinforcing the proactive approach of caring for customers.1

However, the underlying interpretation of this study is that specific demographics can greatly vary the behaviors of pharmacy customers.1

While customers all have specific preferences that influence their decisions when visiting a local pharmacy, researchers claim that pharmacists should be diligent of these preferences and will better retain customer loyalty if they are accommodating to these preferences.

Researchers concluded the study by highlighting the variability of consumers’ pharmacy preferences, especially concerning pharmacy selection, purchase of OTCs, the evaluation of the pharmacy’s goods and services, and finally, demographic characteristics.1

1. Kevrekidis DP, Minarikova D, Markos A, Malovecka I, Minarik P. Community pharmacy customer segmentation based on factors influencing their selection of pharmacy and over-the-counter medicines. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. 2018;26(1):33-43.
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