PHARMACY

Pharmacy retailers can promote brand advocacy with superior customer service, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

TORONTO — Customer service is the key driver of brand advocacy in retail pharmacy, according to a new study.

Customer experience management firm Empathica released results of a survey of more than 1,500 consumers, polling customers on their perception, attitude and opinion toward the retail pharmacy experience. Across brands, three main factors — choice, service and trust — drove brand advocacy. Of the top six pharmacy retailers in terms of market share — Costco, CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart — Kroger received top marks in nearly all customer service categories, with 4-in-5 Kroger customers agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would recommend it to friends and family.

"Retail pharmacies can create a win-win relationship with customers by providing exemplary customer service; in turn, there is an opportunity for customers to ‘work’ for their primary pharmacy as brand advocates," Empathica CEO Gary Edwards said. "There is little room for winning a price war in pharmacy retail. The real battlefront for pharmacies is in customer service and convenience."

The study also found differences in how drug store chains and mass merchandise chains and supermarkets promote their business and how they can learn from each other. For example, only one-third of mass-retail customers indicated they were aware of loyalty programs, compared with 43% of drug store customers. Meanwhile, drug store chains could look to mass retailers for how to provide in-store promotions; 32% of drug store customers answered that they "always" found attractively priced promotions, compared with 44% of mass retail customers.

"To build a stronger, more loyal customer base, mass retailers and specialty drug chain retailers can look to what the other has to offer," Edwards said. "Rather than focusing exclusively on general customer service or in-store promotions, all pharmacy retailers have an opportunity to better manage the key moments of truth on the customer journey. This includes providing more choices, offering superior service throughout the experience and promoting loyalty programs to create deeper relationships with customers. When customers experience exceptionality in these areas, regardless of price, it definitely builds brand advocacy."

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PHARMACY

FDA approves GSK four-strain flu vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new four-strain flu vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline, the drug maker said.

GSK announced the approval of its Fluarix Quadrivalent (influenza virus vaccine) for children and adults against seasonal influenza subtypes A and B. The company said the vaccine was the first for intramuscular injection that protects against four strains of the virus.

"Trivalent influenza vaccines have helped protect millions of people against flu, but in six of the last 11 flu seasons, the predominant circulating influenza B strain was not the strain that public health authorities selected," GSK VP and head of the company’s North America vaccines clinical development and medical affairs division Leonard Friedland said. "Fluarix Quadrivalent will help protect individuals against both B strains and from a public health standpoint can help decrease the burden of disease."


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PQA appoints new chairman, executives

BY Alaric DeArment

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The head of the American Pharmacists Association has been tapped as the chairman of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, the PQA said Tuesday.

The PQA announced the appointment of APhA EVP and CEO Thomas Menighan, who will succeed Judith Cahill, who has served on the organization’s board since its 2006 inception, including a recently completed two-year stint as chairwoman.

Other new members of the PQA board include American Society of Health System Pharmacists CEO Paul Abramowitz; Food and Drug Administration Safe Use Initiative acting director Dale Slavin; and Prime Therapeutics SVP cost and care Peter Wickersham.


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