Marketing encompasses far more than merely advertising. Marketing implies the transfer of information needed for consumers to make effective decisions about the purchase of goods and services. Community pharmacies can use marketing to bridge the divide between themselves and their potential market. Pharmacy businesses can adjust elements of the marketing mix to develop value for their customers, and marketing strategies are designed as a set of stimuli to influence the behavior of consumers.
Mirzaei et al conducted a systematic review of pharmacy marketing research.1 Their review encompassed several marketing studies. Among the more recent findings: areas with high competition are more likely to offer services such as vaccine administration; passive methods (eg, bag-stuffing) and active methods (eg, face-to-face and phone calls) were deemed equally effective; patient information packets and prescriber-endorsed letters were equally effective; hedonic (pleasurable) and functional quality experiences were important for customers to be very satisfied with pharmacy goods and services; OTCs, price, personal selling and sales promotion were important factors in garnering customer support for a pharmacy’s marketing mix of services; and service quality in pharmacies is relatively low due to poor communication. A number of marketing efforts were focused on differentiation and positioning, but fewer were focused on targeting and segmentation. Hardly any studies of marketing efforts really explored the concept and use of branding. There is much literature on what to do and how to do it in regard to pharmacist services, but overall quite little on related marketing activities.
“Build it and they will come” is typically not an effective strategy for developing, sustaining, and acquiring customers for pharmacy services. Passive mechanisms of marketing are likely less costly, take up less human resources time, and might be just as effective as more active and “sophisticated” marketing campaigns. In other words, some level of marketing far exceeds zero marketing. Pharmacy managers should attempt to focus marketing efforts of targeting, segmentation, and branding strategies to truly differential a pharmacy from its competitors and target the people most likely to become loyal customers.
Additional information about Marketing Foundations and Marketing Applications can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e . If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.
1Mirzaei A, Carter SR, Schneider CR. Marketing activity in the community pharmacy sector: A scoping review. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2018;14:127-137.