ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A consulting firm for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores here soon will begin analyzing exit interviews for a research study on how pharmacies can increase front-end purchases.
WSL Strategic Retail, New York, is in the process of interviewing about 600 consumers leaving chain drug stores in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Minneapolis, and Fresno, Calif. It will continue to do so throughout March, and will analyze the information in April.
The study is being conducted by NACDS in conjunction with the American Greetings Research Council, Cleveland. The organizations' goal is to create an action plan on how to encourage shoppers to make out-of-department purchases while in the store to drop off or pick up a prescription.
"We're at a time where profit margins are being squeezed; pharmacies have to find new ways to make money to prosper," said Steve Perlowski, director of industry affairs at NACDS. Members of the American Greetings Research Council were unavailable for comment.
Perlowski said the study will be valuable to many different retail channels, including supermarkets, because it will show how to get customers to shop more than one department.
"We want to find out how to use pharmacy as a leverage for the rest of the store," he said.
The study, officially launched April 1995, will look at merchandising, promotions, couponing and pharmacy recommendations.
"If you look at why people shop drug stores, 50% of consumers who come in don't buy anything else on that trip," Perlowski said. "The average pharmacy fills 150 prescriptions. If you can get each of those people to buy one or two items, especially an over-the-counter medication in the $8 to $9 range, it can really add up."
NACDS officials will discuss the progress of the study at this year's annual NACDS meeting, April 27 to May 1, in Maui, Hawaii.
Along with exit interviews, the consulting firm has held eight focus groups -- two each in San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston -- to gather consumer viewpoints on the concept. After the exit interviews are analyzed, the next step is developing an implementation plan, which Perlowski said will take place over the summer.
Beginning in September, the plan will be put into action at about 30 stores during a six-month pilot test. Shopping patterns before and after the plan is executed will be evaluated.
In April 1997, the plan will be re-evaluated and, if necessary, modified. The results will be announced at the NACDS Marketplace Conference, May 15 to 18, 1997, San Diego.