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Publix ranks high in customer satisfaction; Walgreens and CVS are most popular pharmacies

BOULDER, Colo. — Publix Pharmacy is North America’s favorite based on customer satisfaction, according to a new study released Wednesday of 3,600 consumers conducted by Market Force Information. Though Walgreens and CVS/pharmacy ranked the highest when those consumers were asked to name their pharmacy chain, with 18% identifying Walgreens and 17% CVS.  

Market Force’s study was designed to uncover which pharmacies consumers prefer for their health and wellness needs, as well as why they favor one pharmacy to another. When asked to rate their satisfaction with their most recent pharmacy experience and their likelihood to refer that pharmacy, consumers scored Publix above all others. Target,  Kroger, Costco and Rite Aid also ranked high on the customer delight index, which reveals the intersection between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a pharmacy to friends and/or family.

“With national chains, grocery stores, wholesale clubs and mail-order options, there’s enormous competition for new customers," stated Janet Eden-Harris, Market Force chief marketing officer. "Faced with a plethora of choices, consumers seldom give a pharmacy another chance, so being adequate is no longer good enough.” 

Market Force also looked at the types of pharmacies consumers patronize the most, asking where they primarily go for their prescriptions. National and regional pharmacy chains topped the list with 43%, while mass retailers ranked second at 19% and supermarket pharmacies ranked third with 14%. Mail orders through health insurance came in at 5%. 

When it came to customer experience, the results were a mixed bag. Nearly 6-out-of-10 said they were delighted by their most recent experience at the pharmacy, while one-third said it was “just OK” and 10% reported being dissatisfied. For those who reported dissatisfaction, the biggest reason given was long checkout times. Others cited the inability to find desired products, as well as poor service by pharmacy staff, cashiers and floor associates.

“We discovered that factors like convenience, friendly service and fast checkouts are prevailing reasons why consumers prefer one pharmacy to another,” Eden-Harris said. “Grocers and mass retailers are increasingly investing in these areas to capture more business from conventional pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS.”

In the pricing category, Costco distinguished itself from the rest of the pack, ranking first with 85%, followed by Walmart with 51% and Target with 42%. Safeway was lauded for having the best loyalty program among the pharmacies studied.

No one received high marks for sales and promotions or for easy-to-read pricing, with scores in the teens. 

Nearly all of those surveyed (96%) said they choose a store’s brand for over-the-counter or nutritional products when faced with an option. Costco’s private-label brand was the most popular, and the wholesale club also earned a spot in the top three for one-stop shopping after Target and Walmart. 

The survey was conducted in July 2013 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 3,648 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 years to older than 65 years. Approximately 78% were women and 22% were men, and half had children at home.

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