Though drug chains are the busiest retail pharmacy operators, Publix Pharmacy is North America's favorite in terms of customer satisfaction, according to a survey of more than 3,600 consumers by Market Force Information, a provider of customer intelligence solutions.

retail pharmacies, customer satisfaction, Market Force Information, customer intelligence, Janet-Eden Harris, Publix, drug chains, pharmacy experience, prescriptions filled, supermarket pharmacies, mass merchant pharmacies, independent pharmacies, mail order, pharmacy customers

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Poll: 'Just OK' doesn't cut it with Rx customers

September 18th, 2013

BOULDER, Colo. – Though drug chains are the busiest retail pharmacy operators, Publix Pharmacy is North America's favorite in terms of customer satisfaction, according to a survey of more than 3,600 consumers by Market Force Information, a provider of customer intelligence solutions.

The Southeast supermarket chain, which has pharmacies in more than 80% of its 1,000-plus stores, got high marks from pharmacy customers in operational attributes such as service, cleanliness, atmosphere and checkout times, as did respective second- and third-place finishers Target and Kroger.

Market Force said its study aimed to reveal which pharmacies people prefer for their health and wellness needs and why they like one pharmacy over another. When asked to rate their satisfaction with their most recent pharmacy experience and their likelihood to refer that pharmacy, consumers rated Publix above all others.

Target, Kroger, Costco and Rite Aid also ranked high on the customer delight index, which shows the intersection between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a pharmacy to friends and family, according to Market Force.

To find out which types of pharmacies consumers visit most often, the poll asked them where they typically get their prescriptions filled. Forty-three percent of respondents cited national and regional drug chains, followed by mass merchant pharmacies (19%), supermarket pharmacies (14%), independent pharmacies (5%) and mail order (5%).

When consumers were asked to name their primary pharmacy chain, 18% cited Walgreens and 17% said CVS. The next-most-cited pharmacies were Walmart (12%), Target (5%), Rite Aid (5%), Kroger (3%), Costco (2%) and Safeway (2%).

Survey: Pharmacy Customer Satisfaction

(in order)
Friendly staff
Publix, Target, Rite Aid, Safeway, Costco
Fast checkout
Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, King Soopers, Publix
Inviting atmosphere
Publix, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, King Soopers
Very clean
Publix, Target, Walgreens, Costco, Rite Aid
Low prices
Costco, Walmart, Target, King Soopers, Publix
Sales & promotions
Walgreens, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, Costco
Easy-to-read pricing
Publix, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger
Loyalty program
Safeway, Target, Kroger, King Soopers, CVS
Nutrition & health information
Publix, Costco, Walgreens, Target, CVS
Convenient location
Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, King Soopers, Kroger
One-stop shopping
Target, Walmart, Costco, Safeway, King Soopers
Private label
Costco, Publix, Target, Walgreens, Walmart
Source: Market Force Information July 2013 survey of 3,648 consumers.

The study's findings reveal that being "just OK" in the eyes of customers can be costly to retail pharmacy operators, Market Force noted.

Nearly six out of 10 of consumers polled said they were delighted by their most recent experience at the pharmacy, a third said it was "just OK" and 10% reported being dissatisfied. That could point to a missed opportunity for pharmacies to snare new business, given that "delighted" customers are almost three times as likely to recommend a business to others.

"With national chains, grocery stores, wholesale clubs and mail-order options, there's enormous competition for new customers. Faced with a plethora of choices, consumers seldom give a pharmacy another chance, so being adequate is no longer good enough," explained Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. "On the flip side, those that leave a positive impression on their customers can create brand advocates who are likely to recommend to family and friends."

Long checkout times were the chief reason for customers reporting dissatisfaction. Other cited the inability to find desired products as well as poor service by pharmacy staff, cashiers and floor associates.

The top performers on the "delight" index, Publix and Target, rated well above the other leading chains in operational excellence attributes, according to Market Force. Publix ranked first for friendly staff, atmosphere and cleanliness. Target led in checkout times, followed by Walgreens and Rite Aid, both of which performed consistently well across most of the categories.

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

Costco's pharmacy ranked first among consumers in the area of pricing, with 85% of respondents citing satisfaction, followed by Walmart (51%) and Target (42%). Safeway was lauded for having the best loyalty program among the pharmacies in the study.

Pharmacy customers, too, showed that they embrace private label, with 96% of those surveyed saying they select a store brand for over-the-counter or nutritional products when faced with a choice. Costco's private 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.

All of the top pharmacies fared poorly in supplying nutrition and health information, a potential area of improvement where one chain could differentiate itself from the others, Market Force said.

The pool of 3,648 respondents in the survey, conducted in July across the United States and Canada, reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 60% reporting household income of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents' ages ranged from 19 to over 65. About 78% were women and 22% were men. Half have children at home.