Pharmacy directors say the relationship with their health and beauty care counterparts is more important than ever. Yet sitting down and discussing merchandising strategy on a regular basis is apparently not a priority in many chains.
These findings are from the second annual "State of the Industry" report conducted by Supermarket Pharmacy, a monthly Fairchild publication for supermarket pharmacists. The survey was mailed to pharmacy executives at supermarket chains nationwide. The 20% response rate represented supermarket chains collectively operating 3,192 pharmacies, or about 58% of all in-supermarket pharmacies.
Just over three-quarters (76%) of supermarket pharmacy directors surveyed rated their relationship with the HBC department as "very important," up from 64% last year. Another 15% described the relationship as "important."
Yet, when it comes to meeting with HBC to plan merchandising strategy, only 38% said they meet weekly, down from 41%. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they never meet. Other responses were split between meeting monthly, 19%, and quarterly, 18%.
Comments penned on the questionnaires reflect some of the tensions that apparently exist in this relationship.
When asked to name one aspect they would most like to change about their supermarket operation, several pharmacy directors and managers mentioned the need to improve relations with HBC. A few went a step further and suggested that HBC "be put under pharmacy control."
These results contrasted with other findings indicating improving relations between pharmacy and top management, and store managers.
Some 62% of pharmacy executives said their relations with top management were improving. Most (61%) agreed with the statement: "Top management understands pharmacy and supports it."
An even greater percentage (65%) said relations between pharmacy and store managers are getting better. A contributing factor here is the continued growth of pharmacy, including gains in percentage of store sales.
Pharmacy's share of store sales averaged 5.8% for 1993, but pharmacy executives project it to grow to 7.2% of store sales by the end of 1994.
The number of supermarket pharmacies is projected to total 6,000 by the end of the year, with pharmacies in supermarkets expected to ring up $4 billion in prescription sales.
In other survey findings, pharmacy executives ranked having a personal relationship with a pharmacist as the most important factor -- tied with service -- in influencing a customer's choice of a pharmacy.