Get to know your pharmacy customer

Real-time learning from Warman-Freed Pharmacy, London

There are a plethora of resources available to pharmacy businesses that will help business owners better understand and define their customer base. By taking the time to analyse the readily available data, you can take some of the risk out of introducing new products or services by first establishing if there is a demand locally.

The Warman-Freed Learning Pharmacy did just that, and this month the team provide their top tips and share some of the insights that they will be exploring in the coming months as a result of their data analysis.

Where to start

Whether it’s considering national priorities and how these impact your community pharmacy or you want to explore new avenues to grow your business, there is a wealth of “free” data available online to help you form conclusions and invest with confidence. Insights specialist Joanna Mills explains:

“The aim is to offer customers what they need when they need it. Through data analysis we can identify what these products or services might be and then ensure we communicate the offering to the relevant audience in the most effective way.”

Refine your findings

The 2011 national census is a great starting point for your research, along with reviewing your local borough’s Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment, insights from GPhC inspections and, of course, pharmacy-owned data from your PMR and EPOS systems. It is a good idea to anchor your thinking in the four Ws of your customers, to understand who they are, what they buy, why they choose pharmacy over another healthcare provider and where else they could shop instead.

The chart below demonstrates how various information sources can be used to answer these four Ws – taking the data beyond just fact and thinking about the implications to ensure the insights collected have real merit.


Useful insights from the Learning Pharmacy

“We began our research by looking at the local results of the 2011 census, which reinforced some existing thinking but also raised new points and opportunities that we hadn’t considered before,” says Ms Mills. “Growth and development is central to our strategy and we’ve identified four areas of focus for the months ahead.”


1. Pharmacy services that fulfil local needs

Insight: Life expectancy is high in Barnet, particularly among women in Golders Green, and the geographic area also has the greatest proportion of older people living alone versus the rest of the borough.

Learning: Prescription deliveries are important to our core customer base and we are reviewing our current ways of working to establish ways to improve this service. We are also reviewing our female-centred health offer to enable us to better support the concerns of women in the community as they get older.

2. Understanding category peaks 

Insight: The morning-after pill is one of the top selling over-the-counter items at the Warman- Freed pharmacy.

Learning: Warman-Freed is well placed to provide sex education and contraception support services for the community. We are looking at enhancing in-store services and considering what online resources or information we can add to our website. Further to this, we are also planning a community outreach programme with local colleges around contraception choices.

3. Broadening your pharmacy appeal

Insight: In common with many pharmacies in the UK, Warman- Freed has significantly more female shoppers than males.

Learning: We want to broaden the appeal of the pharmacy to grow our male customer base. We also know women are the gatekeepers to men’s health and wellbeing so we’ll be encouraging female customers to refer partners to the pharmacy for a service or consultation.

4. Raising awareness of the current pharmacy offer

Insight: Only six per cent of the general public questioned stated that they would speak to their pharmacist to get their blood pressure checked.

Learning: Blood pressure checks are a really simple service with a low cost of administration. We could do more to publicise this service, highlighting the benefits and importance of regular checks, as well as helping customers to understand why they should have it checked in a pharmacy rather than at their GP.

Ms Mills concludes: “There is no need to commission an expensive research study when a wealth of valuable data is already publically available. Look to dedicate some time to reviewing the data that is out there and you could identify areas of growth and focus that are grounded in solid evidence.”


Research resource checklist

External resources: 􀀀

  • UK Census Data
  • Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment
  • Public perceptions of pharmacies – a study commissioned by the GPhC

Pharmacy resources: 􀀀

  • EPOS sales data 􀀀
  • Rx demographics from your PMR system
  • Dispensing demographics 􀀀
  • CPPQ questionnaire results.

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