STUDY: Three in Five U.S. Consumers Are Not Loyal to Any One Pharmacy

Click on the image above to access additional charts for Wave 2 2012 Key Trends.

Empathica Consumer Insights Panel Finds U.S. Pharmacy Retailers Lack Online Presence, Loyalty Programs and Targeted Promotions.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – January 8, 2013 Empathica Inc., a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to the world’s most respected multi-unit enterprises in retail, food services, banking, petro and hospitality sectors, today announced results of the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel on consumer perceptions of pharmacy retail in the U.S. The study found that 60 percent of consumers would not recommend a particular pharmacy brand to their family and friends. This means that despite the promising future of the pharmacy industry –more than three-fifths of the consumers surveyed would not cut pharmacy spending, regardless of the economy – most consumers do not have a loyal relationship with any one chain or mass retail pharmacy.

Much of this lack of customer engagement can be attributed to a slow adoption of technology by pharmacies. Online prescription drug sales are expected to grow at a faster rate than in-store sales, yet 40 percent of pharmacies do not have an online presence. For those that are online, only half of their customers are aware of their web offering, and less than 20 percent have received information or offers promoting the services.

“Three in four customers still place and fill their prescription orders in-store,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “This highlights both the lack of online pharmacy services and a low level of awareness among customers about existing services. There is no doubt that consumers are performing an increasing number of activities online – pharmacies need to get there and take advantage of digital rewards and online marketing to attract and retain customers.”

Surprisingly, it is the older generation that takes advantage of online prescription services most often. Thirty-six percent of consumers who manage prescriptions online are Baby Boomers, while Gen Y makes up just 20 percent. According to Edwards, this highlights the importance of convenience among the older generation. They want relationships for advice, and convenience for ease of access. Of the 25 percent of consumers who fill and manage prescriptions online, most use mobile health applications and believe their pharmacy should utilize similar applications. Despite this, the majority of all customers (75 percent) do not know whether this type of application is available at their pharmacy.

Click on the image above to access additional charts for Wave 2 2012 Key Trends.

As core pharmacy services become commoditized, another area for improvement is loyalty programs and targeted promotions. According to the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel, only 40 percent of customers are highly committed subscribers to loyalty programs at their primary pharmacy. This is even lower in a mass retail setting, with just 32 percent of customers responding that they “always subscribe to loyalty programs.”  In terms of promotions targeted at in-store consumers, there is an even bigger opportunity, with only 30 percent of consumers indicating that they are always aware of valuable coupons at pharmacies and mass retailers.

“Our research shows that customers that always use loyalty programs are almost twice as likely to advocate their primary pharmacy to friends and family (64 percent) when compared to non-loyalty program subscribers (36 percent),” said Edwards. “Pharmacies that do not offer loyalty programs or targeted promotions miss an opportunity to turn consumers into loyal customers and advocates.”

Edwards suggests that pharmacies located within big box retailers must take advantage of their price advantage by offering compelling promotions and utilizing marketing tactics such as in-store coupons.

“For bargain-hunting customers, promotions really help drive behavioral loyalty,” continued Edwards. “For chain pharmacies that cannot compete on price alone, loyalty programs give customers an incentive for returning and set them apart from other pharmacy chains that, according to our research, are often not leveraging these programs and promotions with consumers. These programs provide a powerful reason for price-conscious consumers to keep coming back.”

For more information on the results of this study, visit


About the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel:

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel serves as an authoritative voice on consumer based economic indicators; the retail, financial services and restaurant industries; consumer shopping intentions and customer satisfaction as reported by thousands of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Results from Empathica’s Consumer Insights, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s Consumer Insights team, are published several times a year. The results are based on outbound Internet surveys with Empathica’s growing Insights Panel, derived from more than 30 million consumer surveys per year. Results have been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S. and in Canada, including Region, Gender, Age and Income.

Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Wave 2 2012.

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