Why parents are an important segment for independent pharmacies

Opportunity in Parents

Target and serve parents of young patients to grow your business

In brief:

  • Households with children are a big opportunity for pharmacies.
  • There are ~74 million children in the U.S. in almost 35 million families.
  • Children take prescriptions, use OTC products and have other needs your pharmacy can meet.
  • The value of families with children to your pharmacy is extremely high, making it an important segment to focus on.

Parents are a big, important opportunity

While seniors fill the most prescriptions, children — and families with children — are also an important segment for pharmacies. Consider:

  • There are ~74 million children in the U.S. and the number is expected to grow to 80 million in 2050.1 A baby is born every 8 seconds.2
  • Per the U.S. Census, nearly 30% of households — representing 35 million families — have a child younger than 18.3

Families with children under 18

  • ~95% of U.S. children are covered by insurance, and most of the uninsured could be enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).4
  • The average family spends more than $233,000 to raise a child; 9% of that is for healthcare.5
  • Estimated costs include $50 a week for diapers, formula and baby food.6

Conclusion: Kids and families with kids represent a large part of the U.S. population.

Children’s medication needs

Since 1960 there has been a 4X increase in the number of children with chronic conditions such as:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)7

As a result, a significant number of children are regularly taking prescriptions. One study found that about 15% of boys and 10% of girls younger than 18 had been regularly taking a prescription medication over the previous three months.8 Parents who have a child with a chronic condition are in the pharmacy constantly.

In addition, parents are frequently purchasing products for other acute issues involving products that don’t require a prescription, such as products for:

  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Allergies
  • Lice
  • Much more

Also, state laws are evolving to allow pharmacists to provide even more healthcare services to younger patients, from immunizations to point-of-care testing.

Conclusion: Pharmacies are well positioned to assist parents with a wide range of prescription, OTC and other healthcare needs.

The total value of parents

Caring for kids is important, but keep in mind that it is the parents who are making the decision about which pharmacy to use and which products to purchase. Turning parents into long-term customers is extremely important because:

  • Young children will have ongoing pharmacy needs throughout their entire life, making them valuable customers.
  • There may be other children in the family who also need care.
  • Parents have their own personal prescriptions and non-prescription needs.
  • Many parents are part of the “Sandwich Generation,” caring for both children and aging parents. A shopper who comes to your store each month for free children’s vitamins also could pick up her own birth control prescription and prescriptions or compression socks for Grandpa.

Keep in mind that when filling one prescription for one young parent with one child, that this one prescription may be the tip of the iceberg. The total lifetime value to your pharmacy of this parent can be enormous.

Conclusion: The total lifetime value of parents with young children can be significant.

The starting point is viewing parents as an attractive segment to target. Additional articles provide information about marketing best practices in targeting this group and turning them into loyal long-term customers. Check back as we discuss this valuable segment for the rest of the month.

1 “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2018,” Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. LINK
2 U.S. and World Population Clock, U.S. Census Bureau. LINK
3 “Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Families with Kids?” Richard Florida, CITYLAB, Jan 16, 2019. LINK
4 “New Report Shows Progress on Children’s Health Coverage Reversed Course,” Joan Alker, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families, Nov. 28, 2018. LINK
5 “How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child in the U.S. in 2018?” Steve Fiorillo, The Street, Dec. 19, 2018. LINK
6 “The Cost of Raising a Baby,” Diane Harris, Parenting. LINK
7 “The Rise in Chronic Conditions Among Infants, Children, and Youth Can Be Met with Continued Health System Innovations,” James M. Perrin et al., Health Affairs, December 2014. LINK
8 “QuickStats: Percentage of Children Having a Problem for Which Prescription Medication Has Been Taken Regularly for ≥3 Months, by Age Group and Sex — National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2017,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Nov. 9, 2018. LINK