Brand Loyalty

The Incredible Importance of Pharmacists for CPG

Cindy_SeebeckIf you occupy shelf space at the drug store, ignore the pharmacist at your own peril.

Pharmacy Today’s annual survey reports that pharmacists’ estimate 79 percent of patients purchase the over-the-counter product they recommend and 92 percent of pharmacists walk a patient to the OTC aisle to make their selection.  The survey also goes on to report that on average, pharmacists’ counsel 27 patients per week about OTC products.  With a multitude of products available within any given category, having a pharmacist as your expert and trusted source recommending your product over others is bound to pay dividends.

It was over 50 years ago that pharmacists were not permitted to discuss products with their customer and needed to refer them back to their physician.  Today, it is a very different story.   Now, not only are pharmacists’ recommending OTC products, but they are also administering immunizations, dispensing health related advice and acting as a local and accessible health resource to consumers.

In 2013, Gregory Wasson, the CEO of Walgreens said  “We are bringing our pharmacists out from behind the counter so you can get the expertise you need to feel a little more healthy.”   Further, he said, “our purpose is to help people get, stay and live well….to transform the role that community pharmacy plays in healthcare in this nation and beyond.  These changes allow pharmacies to advance their positions as healthcare locations by implementing health and wellness programs within the stores’ settings.”

With the rapid expansion of retail pharmacies like CVS (see chart below), Walgreens, and Rite Aid and the proximity of these locations to a majority of consumers’ homes (Forbes reports 1.4 miles for urban dwellers) , accessibility is not a stumbling block for consumers.  This ease of accessibility, coupled with consumer willingness to use OTC products as their first line of defense prior to consulting with a physician, makes these major retailers an important component to brand sales.

statistic_id241544_number of CVS locations-2005-2014

The ease and accessibility of these brick and mortar locations has allowed the retailers to offer services for which consumers were primarily reliant on their physicians. Now you can go to your local pharmacy for flu shots and other immunizations, have your blood pressure checked, have a check up or physical examination, or be treated for a minor abrasion among myriad other maladies.  These “line extensions” to the old-style pharmacy are being performed by nurse practioners and physician’s assistants.

Executed properly, this lends further credibility to the entire “shopping” experience for the retailer and bolsters the overall brand image of the establishment.  Now, despite the fact that the consumer has a choice as to where they buy their OTC product, they will most likely continue to shop where they have established an overall health care profile and where they feel most comfortable.  Now, not only do we have positive brand image but brand loyalty too.  Brilliant!

With over 30 years of experience in Integrated Media, Cindy Seebeck is a formidable practitioner with her fingers in every medium from spot TV to Digital OOH.  She plans and executes holistic media campaigns for Underscore Marketing across a wide variety of clients.