RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here is promoting its private-label over-the-counter medications as the Pharmacist's Choice, a new program designed to have pharmacists recommend generic medications.
"Efficient Management of OTC Products" is part of Ukrop's continuing-education program. It's the first time Ukrop's has devoted a program to the importance of house-brand over-the-counter products.
"With more and more products going over-the-counter, we would like customers to ask our pharmacists for recommendations. We want customers to look at the pharmacist as a resource in the community," said John Beckner, director of pharmacy.
To promote its Top Care brand, Ukrop's is positioning counter cards at service areas, hoisting banners within the store, and advertising on grocery bags and in a monthly customer newsletter.
The program kicks off this month. "We hope it's going to be widely accepted," Beckner said. If so, it will run for at least one year.
Ukrop's house brand, Top Care, is manufactured by Topco, Skokie, Ill. Ukrop's is the exclusive retailer in the Richmond market area of about 300 Top Care stockkeeping units. The food store also sells its own brand of vitamins.
About 17% of health and beauty care sales come from private-label products. "If we got to 25% we would be extremely happy. There are better margins on house brands," said Harvey Sutton, Ukrop's HBC director. "We're not trying to put national brands out of business. We're still promoting national brands," he added.
To reassure pharmacists at Ukrop's that the generic stockkeeping units are as effective as branded products, the food store will be doing a "quality-assurance" test of these products for the pharmacy staff, as part of a continuing-education program in May.
"We want to give our pharmacists the confidence level to recommend our Top Care products. The quality-assurance tests will solidify the message that our brands are effective," Beckner said.
Lab technicians were scheduled to perform quality-assurance tests on the generics May 16, and Beckner predicted the results should prove Top Care brands are comparable to the national brands. Over-the-counter analgesics, topical products and antacids were among house brands that were tested.
"We carry a full line of over-the-counter house-brand analgesics, antacids, topical medicines like antibiotic creams and ointments, and antihistamine products. Depending on the product, there are considerable savings in most cases. The average price differential is about 40% [between branded and private-label products]."
Eleven of the 22 Richmond-area Ukrop's have pharmacies. A 12th pharmacy opens this June in Petersburg.