Community Pharmacy is under pressure of changes in the business and challenged by technological breakthroughs. That’s creating the urgency pharmacy to clearly understand where it is and where it wants to go to. If that’s the situation marketing can really help pharmacy: taking advantage of tools and strategies proven to be successful in other industries, marketing can really make a difference.
When an industry is changing as fast as pharmacy is, it is recommended to start by properly repositioning. A good positioning strategy requires a careful evaluation: the first step is to understand the total market size and opportunity. Market data and reports can help you to outline the number of potential customers as well as the potential sales in the market. Once you have a clear view of customers you have to outline the market characteristics to determine whether your market is growing, stable or contracting and what external factors or trends are influencing your market.
Those general marketing assumptions are valid for pharmacy as well. For community pharmacy the business changes, so it is necessary to change perception in the marketplace. Repositioning is the best way to change perception.
That means to implement the tools and general strategy of marketing in the pharmacy business: that could have a terrific impact and could help to understand what is necessary, what works and what is just damaging.
The first step is creating a market profile evaluating the total market size and opportunity: many reports and data about prescriptions are easily available and it is also relatively easy to understand where those prescriptions come from and go to.
After having defined the market size, the following step is outlining market’s characteristics. Is your market growing, stable or contracting? What’s currently influencing your market? Are there any developments affecting it? Are there any developments affecting it?
For example it’s important to understand the impact web pharmacy has: how much patients in that area or in that city are attracted by online services? The interest is not always the same and changes significantly in rural areas compared to urban ones. So knowing how big the impact of web pharmacy is in that specific territory will help adopting alternative strategies for properly competing and making possible community pharmacy staying in the market.
The final step is adopting those solutions that taking in consideration changes and new challenges can really transform community pharmacy in a modern and competitive concept. It does not mean moving away from what made pharmacy a unique and valuable service for the community: counselling, consulting, experience and health care service and support will always be the key points and will be more and more appreciated by patients. The opposite: pharmacy needs to have more time for those services that only a pharmacist can provide. It means making possible pharmacist to have more time for talking with people, allowing him to give his advice and suggestions.
But pharmacist can do it if you free him up from a number of activities that are not really the core of his job. Dispensing a medicine to a patient that is using it from ages, is really what pharmacist should do? We believe that technologies can now do this as well: so where pharmacies adopt technologies for simple basic operations are now reaching 2 targets at the same time. From one side patients get a faster and better service and from the other side pharmacist has the possibility to use his time for high value job as counselling and consulting. So when patient really needs to talk, pharmacist will really have time for what patient needs in that moment.