Connect With Who Really Shops Your Store

September 10, 2015By Articles, Independent Pharmacy


by Dave Wendland, Vice President, Hamacher Resource Group, as seen in Insight Magazine, July 2015, pages 14-15, and on QS/

In October 2014, an article by Hamacher Resource Group entitled "The Power of Profiling" appeared in Insight. That editorial highlighted five shopper types from a 2013 study: Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why? Whether these profiles work well for your organization or you want to analyze and categorize your shoppers differently, grouping them by common characteristics will help you cater to them more effectively. First, determine the different customer types you've encountered. Then, select which ones you are best suited to serve. Finally, implement your segmentation by optimizing your products and services for that segment and communicating that you are going to distinguish yourself that way.

Create Targeted Customer Segments

Consider these three types of groupings and a couple of simple techniques to help you identify your reach.

Health Conditions

Examining prescription records and comparing them to front-end purchases can help you understand the health conditions your current patient/customer base is managing. Then you can modify your assortment to better meet their needs. You can also conduct a shopper survey to understand preferences, the most popular categories and the average number of categories shopped per visit. This can begin to shed light on the similarities among customers already coming to your store and provide direction on how to better cater to their health needs.

Hint: One pharmacy wanted to understand how current prescription patients shopped its front end, including the various paths they took to reach their destination. They used security cameras and scheduled staff to observe and understand customer routes. It resulted in the realignment of some of the core categories to improve navigation and manage traffic flow.

Demographic Segments

When segmenting, some retail pharmacies elect to create a destination for a specific customer demographic. Below is some insight into three of the largest demographic groups.

Baby Boomers

  • Ten thousand turn 65 every day.
  • They earn nearly half (47 percent) of all income in the U.S.
  • They represent 40 percent of all demand purchases.
  • More than 60 percent take a multivitamin.


  • They were born in the 80s and 90s and are in their late teens to mid 30s.
  • They are one of the largest generations in history.
  • By 2017, they will outspend baby boomers.
  • By 2030, they will outnumber baby boomers, 78 million to 56 million.
  • They are digital natives who value convenience and appreciate service.
  • They are socially conscious and connected.
  • Wellness is a daily pursuit. They live very active lifestyles.


  • They account for 17 percent of the U.S. population; by 2050, one-third of the population will be Hispanic.
  • They have a higher incidence of diabetes - one in 10 is diabetic.
  • Fewer than half have a designated primary physician.
  • They are highly connected with mobile technology and social media - 79 percent own smartphones.
  • They favor national brands to store brands; natural, organic and home remedies resonate.

Hint: Become knowledgeable about the demographic you hope to attract and hire staff that understands it firsthand - relatability is important. One multi-state pharmacy operator quickly discovered this the hard way after moving into a new market and attempting to cater to a new demographic only to find that area's patrons wanted to do business with people like themselves.

Competitive Differentiation

Your strategy may be to focus on segments of the market underserved by the competition. The key here is to select a market you and your staff are interested in serving. Passion can be a huge driver of positive outcomes.

The best way to achieve this is by identifying market gaps. Once you've selected a differential niche, your next challenge is to align suppliers and complementary partners to help you become fully immersed in the discipline.

Hint: If you elect to go this route, you must be all in. One pharmacy operator was committed to becoming the go-to destination for diabetes education. Not only did the owner build an adjacent classroom to provide services, the pharmacy broadened its assortment to include items other competitors weren't carrying. The pharmacy also went the extra mile by reaching beyond its four walls to neighboring healthcare professionals.

Focus on Your Target Customers

As you gain a deeper knowledge of your target customer base, it is vital to seek an understanding of its underlying motivation and behavior. Segmenting customers can help you discover how your target market likes to shop and what influences its purchasing decisions. After completing your homework, focus is essential. Your entire staff should be able to identify the ideal shopper and know what they are looking for and how to best meet their needs. This should be a topic of discussion each time a promotional event is planned, advertisements are created or new categories or merchandise lines are considered. If your pharmacy is truly laser-focused on a particular segment of the market then that lens should be used as a decision-making tool.

Stay the Course

It is essential to put together a consistent marketing and business plan to position yourself as a destination for your target customer base. Below are four vital steps:

1. Write an appealing value proposition. For example, if you are zeroing in on family caregivers, create a tag line that speaks to their needs: "Your trusted healthcare partner and confidant as you provide comfort for your loved one:'

2. Create a written business plan and budget to market to this group, to attract and retain them. You may need to redesign portions of your store or bring in new categories.

3. Develop a measurement system to track your progress. Remember the adage, "You can't measure what you don't plan:' So planning is paramount.

4. Review your marketing plan and efforts regularly to make sure they remain relevant, and adjust where necessary to drive your business forward. It's important to recognize that, "You can't be all things to all people:' Experience has demonstrated that organizations that specialize in meeting the needs of one or two groups of consumers over others tend to be more profitable. If you struggle with what differentiates your pharmacy or how to best cater to specific consumer segments, don't hesitate to reach out. Hamacher Resource Group may have a solution or be able to point you in a new direction.

Dave Wendland is a 20-plus-year industry veteran and vice president of Hamacher Resource Group, Inc. He is also a member of the company's ownership team.

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