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Community Pharmacies Serving a Niche are at an Advantage

Benefits of Being Known for Something Unique One of the best ways to stand out as an independent pharmacy is to make yourself known for owning and serving a niche.  Being uniquely identified with a service is a great way to strengthen your pharmacy’s brand equity as well as build a community of following. A […]

Benefits of Being Known for Something Unique

One of the best ways to stand out as an independent pharmacy is to make yourself known for owning and serving a niche.  Being uniquely identified with a service is a great way to strengthen your pharmacy’s brand equity as well as build a community of following.

A study that assessed the importance of brand equity (measured by goodwill) in health services found that brand equity and stockholder returns are significantly and positively correlated.  Furthermore, with the prevalence of social media sites, word of mouth marketing (WOMM) can be of amplified impact.  A niche community further catalyzes the effects of WOMM. nichejpg

Specializing in one area also means you develop an expertise in one area.  When you master an area and you’re doing it better than anyone else, you have found a “special sauce” that keeps customers coming back for more.

 

Finding and Choosing a Niche

The next step is deciding what niche market to focus on.

1) What are your core competencies?

Is there something your pharmacy already does or have that sets you apart from the chain stores, or even another independent pharmacy in town?  For example, if you are located in the heart of Main Street in a quaint little town that attracts tourists, having a gift shop section could make you stand out as a must-visit location.  If you have a soda fountain, developing a matchless treat menu can make you stand shoulders apart from cookie-cutter big box pharmacies.

2) What needs do your customers have?

One of the best ways to develop a rapport is to address your current customers’ needs.  Take time to listen to your frontline employees or strike up casual conversations with your customers and figure out what their needs are.

3) What community are you apart of?

Are you a part of a niche community already?  If you a mother in moms groups on different social media channels, you can leverage that connection.  Having a kid’s play area or supporting breastfeeding by having a nursing room and relevant products can quickly and inexpensively gain you a lot of support from potential customers that you already have access to and relationships with.

4) What types of communities do you have access to?

What business are in the same geographic location as you?  Do you have many gyms and sports related business around you?  If so, carrying sports nutrition products and products related to sports medicine can help your pharmacy resonate with the number of athletes that frequent the area.

Before discussing some simple niche ideas, here is a free ebook offer on developing your own pharmacy business plan that you may find applicable.

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Types of Pharmacy Niches

1) Speed

Slow and steady wins the race, unless you’re a pharmacy.  AccentHealth discovered that 60% of consumers are disloyal to pharmacies and the top complaint about preferred pharmacies being the wait time.  Streamlining your processes and minimizing workflow time through technology or standardization of processes gives customers a reason to stay loyal when they feel richer in time after visiting your pharmacy.

2) Delivery/Bedside Delivery

Another niche opportunity is to offer delivery of prescriptions to your customers’ homes.  To take it one step further, you can help hospitalized patients a seamless transition after discharge with bedside delivery of their prescriptions.  When asked, a former RN said that newly discharged patients, especially if elderly, are especially vulnerable to non-adherence.  Medications as an inpatient are often different than prescriptions given upon discharge, causing confusion.  By delivering prescriptions to the hospital bedside allows the patient to have the medications available immediately after going home.  Furthermore, it’s been shown that face-to-face counseling helped patients most when followed up by conversations with nurses upon discharge.

3) Adherence Programs

Having an adherence program can help your pharmacy and your customers alike.  Compliance to prescription medication has proven to help patients avoid re-hospitalizations and help make the most value of the drugs.  It will also keep the customer coming back for refills.  An adherence program can simply be a commitment to remind your customers of upcoming refills or making it easy to obtain refills through communicating directly with your
customers’ doctors.  A more sophisticated method of helping your customers keep up with their medication is an appointment based packaging of medications such as Medicine-On-Time.

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4) Leverage Your Values

If nothing else, you can develop and serve a niche by simply instilling values into your business and being known for them.  Like previously mentioned, if you support the struggles of mothers, install a nursing room, breastfeeding supplies, and a kids’ area.  Also, carry holistic, baby-friendly OTC treatments.  If your cause lies with advocating for a healthy lifestyle, make available a diverse line of supplements and protein powders while making it easy for your customers to follow their progress by having wellness trackers (blood pressure machine, scale, body fat scale, etc.) in the store.  As a community pharmacist, carrying novelties from other local businesses can also draw in those that support local, small businesses.  If you make your values known and serve those that share the same beliefs, you be able to harvest a healthy return from an investment into a niche market and a relevant brand reputation.

 

There you have it.  Now you’re on your way to synthesizing your own special compound.

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