Meeting Changing Consumer Needs in the US Retail Pharmacy Landscape: Insights and Strategies

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Oct 15, 2023

3 min read


Meeting Changing Consumer Needs in the US Retail Pharmacy Landscape: Insights and Strategies


The US retail pharmacy industry is facing numerous challenges, including saturated retail locations, labor shortages, inflationary pressure, and a plateau in generic drug penetration. To remain competitive in this evolving landscape, retail pharmacies of all types must understand and adapt to changing consumer preferences. In this article, we will explore the different types of retail pharmacies, consumer preferences, and actionable strategies to meet the changing needs of consumers.

The Evolving Retail Pharmacy Landscape:

The retail pharmacy landscape has transformed significantly over the past two decades. We can categorize retail pharmacies into four types: retail chains, regional pharmacies (mass retail and grocers), independent pharmacies, and mail-order and online pharmacies. Retail chains dominate the market, accounting for a third of stores and prescription revenues. They dispense a significantly higher number of prescriptions per store compared to other types of pharmacies, highlighting their widespread presence and influence.

Mail-order and online pharmacies, although currently representing a smaller portion of the market, are gaining traction. These pharmacies offer convenience and speed, attracting consumers who value these benefits. However, to bridge the potential gaps in consumer experience caused by their lower-touch approach, online pharmacies can explore ways to create a more personalized experience. For instance, incorporating video telehealth visits with remote pharmacists can establish a personal connection and enhance convenience.

Consumer Preferences and Strategies:

Understanding consumer preferences is crucial for retail pharmacies to meet changing needs effectively. McKinsey conducted a consumer survey of over 1,000 people in the United States, uncovering valuable insights. By aligning strategies with these preferences, pharmacies can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Let's explore some key findings and corresponding strategies:

  • 1. Convenience is Key: Consumers increasingly prioritize convenience when choosing a pharmacy. To cater to this preference, retail pharmacies can focus on offering seamless omnichannel experiences. For example, integrating online ordering, delivery services, and mobile apps can provide customers with a convenient and frictionless experience.
  • 2. Personalized Care: Despite the rise of online pharmacies, personalized care remains an essential aspect of the pharmacy experience. Retail pharmacies can enhance personalization by leveraging technology. Implementing comprehensive patient profiles, medication reminders, and personalized recommendations can strengthen the bond between pharmacists and customers.
  • 3. Transparency and Affordability: Consumers value transparency in pricing and affordability. Retail pharmacies can prioritize price transparency by clearly displaying medication costs and insurance coverage information. Additionally, exploring cost-saving initiatives, such as generic drug promotions and loyalty programs, can enhance affordability for customers.


The US retail pharmacy landscape is undergoing significant changes driven by consumer preferences and market dynamics. By understanding these changes and adapting their strategies, retail pharmacies can meet the evolving needs of consumers effectively. Prioritizing convenience, enhancing personalization, and emphasizing transparency and affordability are actionable steps that pharmacies can take to stay competitive in this challenging environment.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace technology: Invest in technology solutions that streamline the pharmacy experience, such as online ordering, mobile apps, and telehealth consultations.
  • 2. Foster partnerships: Collaborate with healthcare providers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders to create a holistic and integrated healthcare experience for customers.
  • 3. Continuously gather and analyze customer feedback: Regularly seek feedback from customers to understand their evolving needs and preferences. Use this information to refine and improve the pharmacy's offerings and services.

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