If you’re wondering how you can improve your pharmacy’s workflow or how your customers see your business, then look no further than market research.
Defined by the Small Business Association, market research “blends consumer behavior and economic trends to confirm and improve your business idea.”
Market research is all about understanding your customers’ needs. Doing so is extremely important, allowing you to invest and focus on elements that need a little more care and attention. It gives you a blueprint on how to work smarter — not harder — towards your independent pharmacy’s goals.
Why Market Research is Important
Believe it or not, your independent pharmacy can always do things a little better. There will always be room for improvement for your business to go above and beyond what’s expected.
That strive for improvement, no matter how marginal, separates the good healthcare providers from the greats. Going the extra mile — and knowing how to effectively use that effort — will do wonders for your independent pharmacy’s success.
Market research also shows you how your pharmacy’s investments are faring in the current market. What will the upcoming flu season look like? Should you get more standard flu vaccines or high-dose shots for elderly patients? Will those boxes of Tamiflu sit on the shelf in favor of COVID or even monkeypox treatments?
Knowing the current state of the market will give you the foresight to make worthwhile investments, ensuring that a product won’t gather dust on the shelf.
Kinds of Market Research and Who to Call:
- Focus groups
- Customer Observations
Businesses usually depend on other companies who specialize in conducting this kind of research. Though it will likely not be inexpensive, it will be a fruitful investment in the long run.
Some experts in Pharmaceutical Market Research include:
- Olson Research Group
- WebMD/Medscape Market Research
- Pinnacle Research Group, LLC
- Directions Inc
- Mindspot Research
Who Fills at Your Pharmacy?
You encounter many patients coming to your pharmacy, filling medications ranging from OTC products to urgently needed, life-saving antibiotics. Observing what kind of medications are primarily filled at your independent pharmacy will give you an idea of how to prioritize/shape your inventory.
If your pharmacy is located in a demographically older neighborhood, chances are medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, and other regularly-used medications will more often fly off the shelf.
As such, it’s best to stock up on those medications since your customer base largely uses them instead of emergency room-centric medications.
Knowing your customer base will help you shape how you market vaccines. Patients above the age of 50 are recommended to get their shingles vaccination. It’s a series of two, so you can develop a rapport with your patient by scheduling their next dose right then and there. It’s like lending a book to a friend: they’re set to come back eventually.
Doors to New Opportunities
Surveys/questionnaires lend a unique perspective. Customers can often be candid and brutally honest as to why they don’t fill at your pharmacy anymore. It often boils down to something like “this pharmacy offers X service and yours doesn’t.”
Recent trend studies found the following things that could “threaten” your pharmacy:
- Customers’ growing preference for online markets
- Changing/evolving technology
- Growing prevalence of bigger chains
New services optimize the customer experience, and market research will reflect the impact of ignoring the changing times. Knowing where your pharmacy can be more modern and efficient will inevitably attract more customers.
How You Can Market Your Pharmacy Services
You want your independent business to look like a million bucks, a cut above the rest of the competition. As a pharmacist, you are providing a service that helps the whole community. People would never know it unless you put yourself out there.
Let everyone know about all the great services your pharmacy provides. Market research analysis will show you what kinds of marketing will attract prospective customers, further building a loyal customer base.
Learn How Different Prices Can Affect Your Profit
Though it’s somewhat self-explanatory, it needs to be said that how your medications are priced is a key factor in whether or not a potential customer goes to your pharmacy or the competition.
We previously went over the long, convoluted process of what determines the prices of your pharmacy’s medications — namely PBMs and PSAOs — so
feel free to check those out.
Learning what prices can attract more customers within the community will give you a leg up above the competition. You’ll be working towards improvement using proven research instead of guesstimating where the market is going. PSAOs and PBMs go a long way in determining those figures in surprising ways, so knowing how to wisely use their resources — and avoiding certain pitfalls provided by them — can only help your independent pharmacy.
Take it in Stride
More often than not, the findings of a market research analysis will not surprise you that much. You likely already have an idea of what aspects your pharmacy is excelling at and what needs fixing.
In this case, the analysis will confirm some brutal truths: you might’ve not been meeting your vaccine quota for the last few months; customer surveys are slowly becoming less positive; you’re transferring more prescriptions out because customers prefer the competition.
Market research analysis will put a face to those dreary realities, but for all the right reasons. They’re meant to objectively tell you the state of the pharmaceutical industry and your pharmacy’s place in it, not kick you while you’re down. Once you learn to take this information in stride, you can create concrete, actionable plans to weather whatever storm comes your way.
Our recent blogs have shown how important it is to focus on the commercial side of the industry. After all, you can’t be a pillar of the community if you’re not financially stable. Market research is meant to show you where the tides are turning in the pharmaceutical industry and give you an idea of how your business is faring in the current climate.
As you become familiar with current trends and certain obstacles plaguing the industry, you will be more prepared and well-equipped to handle whatever the next fiscal quarter consists of.