PHILADELPHIA -- Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., is No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all supermarket pharmacies, according to a consumer study of 14 market areas. The results of the study were revealed during the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Pharmacy & Technology Conference here last month.
Publix also was the top pharmacy across all retail trade channels in the Atlanta and Miami markets, noted Jim Wilson, president, Wilson Health Information, New Hope, Pa., in reporting the 2003 WilsonRx Pharmacy Survey during an educational session at the conference. Publix's executives declined comment.
The study represents more than 16,000 pharmacy customers from a random national panel of 25,182 households, and was conducted during the month of July. The survey covered more than 300 topics on pharmacy and pharmacist satisfaction issues, including timeliness, payment and professional service issues. The market areas covered were Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington.
On a monthly average, respondents patronizing all channels spent $154 on food and groceries, $68 on prescription drugs (out-of-pocket expenses only, does not include insurance), $27 on non-prescription drugs and health care products, and $24 on personal care, beauty and cosmetic products.
Overall, 53% of survey respondents were highly satisfied with their food store pharmacy in 2003, a jump from 49% in 2002. Customers of all types of pharmacies were more satisfied this year than last year, and independent pharmacy customers were the most highly satisfied with their pharmacy overall.
"It's a nice satisfaction trend in supermarkets, it seems to be a consistent increase [in overall satisfaction], and it doesn't show signs of slowing down," Wilson told SN.
Kroger Co., Cincinnati; Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.; Giant Food, Landover, Md., a division of Ahold USA; and Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, were the most frequently used food store pharmacies in their market areas as reported by the households participating in the 14-market study, Wilson said.
Other revelations pertaining to supermarkets include:
29% of respondents in the Dallas region use food store pharmacies, the highest regional users of supermarket pharmacies
17% of Hispanic respondents shop at supermarket pharmacies, the highest percentage of any ethnicity polled in the study
Nearly three out of four food store pharmacy customers were offered the opportunity to speak to a pharmacist, but only 40% actually went for pharmacy counseling
Among those who spoke to a pharmacist about their last new prescription, 57% of supermarket pharmacy customers were highly satisfied with the counseling, up 5% from 2002.
Many supermarkets are putting more importance on the convenience of the pharmacy location in their stores. Many stores are redesigning the departments and relocating them near the front of the store, Wilson said. "It's one of the real appeals," he said. "These redesigns are very impressive, and food stores have really made an improvement in that area."
Food store pharmacies need to improve on out-of-stock medications, Wilson said. Forty-five percent of food store customers surveyed had to return to their pharmacy because of an out-of-stock prescription, the highest percentage of any other retail sector, slightly ahead of chain drug stores (43%), mass merchants (42%), and independent pharmacies (35%).
When things go out of date or out of stock, "the problem is a function of customer volume and anticipating which prescriptions customers need the most," he said.
Supermarkets need to continue to make pharmacies more visible in their stores, and make pharmacy departments more accessible to disease sufferers through easy entry and exits near the pharmacy and with more drive-through windows, Wilson said.