Pharmacy reaps benefits from sports-medicine niche market

March 15, 2011

Niche markets offer pharmacies a way to develop revenue streams, add to their bottom lines, and enhance customer service. Just ask Mark Williams, CPhT, marketing director for the Compounding Pharmacy in Hickory, N.C., a pharmacy that grew its business by thinking outside the box.

Key Points

Niche markets offer pharmacies a way to develop revenue streams, add to their bottom lines, and enhance customer service. Just ask Mark Williams, CPhT, marketing director for the Compounding Pharmacy in Hickory, N.C., a pharmacy that grew its business by thinking outside the box.

While the largest percentage of the Compounding Pharmacy's business currently comes from bioidentical hormone-replacement therapies, compounding for veterinary patients, and sterile compounding, the company knew it had to explore additional markets in order to grow.

"Because we have a top-notch pharmacy team, it allows us to explore new opportunities," said Williams.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the National Community Pharmacists Association, Williams outlined the steps his company followed to expand into sports medicine.

Step 1: Identify the markets

Niche marketing is as simple as identifying a group of people who share mutual interests and needs, said Williams.

He began by identifying the sports teams - professional, semi-professional, and collegiate - in the area surrounding the pharmacy, which is located about 1 hour north of Charlotte. With many such teams in the area, sports medicine appeared to be a natural extension of the pharmacy's business.

During initial meetings with team personnel, Williams began to understand the needs of the sports teams market.

One lesson learned involved player eligibility, something on the forefront of every athletic trainer's mind.

For example, The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a list of medications prohibited for use by athletes. Those who test positive for these banned medications can lose their eligibility to play and the team can face sanctions.

In another example, Williams cited a football lineman whose pharmaceutical needs differ from those of a female tennis player, who has different pharmaceutical needs from those of a male or female cyclist.

"While we cannot compound anything that is commercially available, the pharmacy can compound various medication dosages to meet individual needs," said Williams.

As is often the case in niche markets, there are no ready-made lists of contacts. For Williams that meant making many cold calls to athletic trainers who in turn could put him in direct contact with a team's physician.

"This is a market where persistence pays off," said Williams.

So, how many phone calls does it take to set up that initial meeting? Williams said he keeps calling until they tell him not to call anymore.