Migratory shopper paths part 1 of 2

October 18, 2013By Industry Intuition, Views

by Dave Wendland, as seen in Healthcare Distributor magazine, Out of the Box column

April/May 2013

As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” Think how much more easily research around drugstore shopper marketing and the “moments of truth” as a consumer reaches the shelf could be accomplished if we simply observed the flight pattern of each shopper.

Earlier this year, Hamacher Resource Group, Inc., completed a report on behalf of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) entitled, Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why? This study included results of qualitative research leading to five identified archetypes that frequent independent pharmacy.

Each shopper entering a store has a distinctive personality — the characteristic pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make a person unique. This first in a series of two columns looks at migratory paths of health, beauty, and wellness shoppers at retail with a bird’s eye view. Not unlike our feathered friends whose programming causes them to follow particular flight patterns, our “fair weather” shoppers are also creatures of habit.

Following are the first three of six migratory paths that may describe the psyche of drugstore shoppers — and how to best cater to their needs.

The dove

Devoted, loving, and loyal, the dove is graceful in her entry. She is interested in items that help her care for herself and her loved ones. She may be shopping for a multi-generational home, and generally begins her journey in the personal care aisles.

Ensuring that she is acquiring the right brands and product types for everyone in her family, she is unassuming in appearance and may be overlooked by the casual observer. She is disciplined and efficient — time is seldom on her side. Between raising her family and caring for her aging parents, she shops quickly and checks out using her loyalty card — because every penny counts.

You’ll very seldom find her deviating to general merchandise categories — with the exception of pet care, since pets also are members of the family for which she is responsible.

The condor

More domineering than the others, the condor lands at the drugstore primarily — and often solely — for her prescription needs. She is focused and deliberate in her flight. She has a broad span of health requirements and relies on not only fast, efficient dispensing, but also the advice and counsel from her trusted confidant, the pharmacist.

Don’t bother to try to capture the condor and force her into other areas of the store. They easily become disoriented and anxious if blown off course. Condors will respond far better to service offerings related to the pharmacy — their primary reason for visiting the store.

The robin

Known for her gentle demeanor and early arrival, you’ll find the robin wandering aisle by aisle. Her point of entry is inconsistent, but her lack of purpose will keep her in the store quite a long time. The robin will slowly bob from one section to another, looking for appealing products and wise purchases.

Perhaps the most difficult to market to, the robin will not increase trips to the store to take advantage of limited time offers, nor will she run from the store if the price of certain items increases a penny or two. She is reliable, predictable, and consistent.

It only takes a short time to observe how different types of birds interact — with each other, with their own kind, and with their environment. Attracting birds takes patience, keen analysis, and skill, the same qualities that lead to attracting and retaining loyal drugstore customers. Next issue I’ll introduce three additional species and review their migratory shopping pattern.

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