Marketing Your Pharmacy to Younger Generations


Show Younger Shoppers What Your Pharmacy Can Do for Them

To attract Generations X, Y and Z — particularly the key demographic of 18- to 50-year-olds — you may need to rethink the ABCs of marketing. And to secure the future of your pharmacy business, focus now on the needs and attitudes of those age groups. Some characteristics of individuals in these generations include:

  • Instead of opening the Yellow Pages to find a pharmacy, they are likely to click on their smartphones and check reviews on social networks.
  • They are healthier and less likely to need prescriptions.
  • They’re accustomed to picking up personal care items at discount stores.

So, to attract these individuals, you will need to educate them about the benefits that your independent community pharmacy provides, and give them a reason to come into your store.

Study Your Specific Market

Traditional marketing channels and messages may not entice generations that grew up being bombarded by advertising and skeptical of those pitches. “They believe that big corporations are just trying to sell them something,” said sales and marketing consultant Tara Jacobsen, owner of Marketing Artfully. That’s a characteristic that could work in favor of small, independent community pharmacies.

While some characteristics are common to the post–Baby Boom generations, study your specific market. If you are trying to reach young women, for example, you need to approach a new mom in a rural area differently than a fashion-loving type in an urban market, Jacobsen explained.

Use formal and informal research to learn about potential customers; not just their ages, earnings, and marital status, but also information such as their hobbies and favorite sports teams, and whether they have children.

Invite a small group in a targeted age range to lunch. Ask about their typical days and what is important to them, Jacobsen suggested. Before you ask questions about what your pharmacy should offer, ask about their lives and challenges.

Create an informal board of advisors you meet with regularly, recommended business consultant Jerry Osteryoung, professor of entrepreneurship emeritus at Florida State University. In addition to your learning more about their age group, he said, “they become raving fans of your business.”

Based on what you learn, create profiles of ideal customers. Give those personas names and detailed life descriptions. From there, Jacobsen said, you can “reverse engineer” what they would like to buy and how to reach them.

12 Ways to Reach Out

Once you understand your potential customers, you can be creative about marketing to them. Here are a dozen ideas to build on:

  1. Educate. “Being able to help without selling is very impactful,” Jacobsen said, particularly with age groups that have been bombarded by businesses pitching to them. Create a short Vine video on how to properly brush your teeth, she suggested.
  2. Be social on social media. On platforms such as Facebook, aim for 70% conversational messages and no more than 30% about your products and services, said Carl Britton, Jr., president of In Their Face Marketing. Post about the local football rivalry and community events, he suggested. Become the hub of community information.
  3. Encourage them to “Like” you. Post content on social media that will encourage people to “Like” your Facebook page and share your messages. One hot August day in Oklahoma, a pharmacy there posted a photo of trees with leaves changing color and the message, “Are you ready for college football and cooler temperatures?” Britton said that although the town in which the pharmacy is located has a population of only 1,100, the message reached 2,000 people on Facebook through Likes and Shares.

    Place a simple sign in your pharmacy that says, “Have you left us a Yelp review?” Customers picking up prescriptions can post reviews through their smartphones while they wait. One small business discovered that 60% of its new customers find it through Yelp, Jacobsen said. It is equally important to check your pharmacy’s Yelp profile regularly and create a dialogue with your customers — responding to both positive and negative reviews. Yelp offers advice on how to go about responding to reviews here.

  4. Make your business easy. Customers in these generations are tech-savvy and value convenience. Offer online services and a mobile app that allow them to manage their prescriptions on the go.
  5. Customize messages. A photo with someone who has piercings and tattoos may turn off older customers, but that type of advertisement could appeal to certain young customers. So, for example, you could have a flyer with that photo distributed only to a specific neighborhood, Jacobsen explained.
  6. Welcome to the neighborhood. If your target market is starting to buy first houses, partner with other businesses to provide welcome packages to new homeowners. Health Mart offers its members campaigns targeted to new movers and new parents as part of its Local Marketing Support program.
  7. Keep them coming back. Many pharmacies already offer free vitamins for children, which encourages parents to come in each month. You can start even earlier by partnering with an obstetrics office and offering free prenatal vitamins, suggested Liz Tiefenthaler, president of Pharm Fresh Media.
  8. Offer unique products your competitors don’t. For example, appeal to customers who are seeking more natural and reusable products by featuring cloth diapers from a local producer you find on Etsy, Jacobsen suggested. Or, become the place in town to buy the most amazing greeting cards.
  9. Focus on health, not just medications. Younger generations tend to rebel against “big pharma,” Jacobsen said, and seek natural remedies. So, instead of advertising name-brand painkillers, you could emphasize products such as vitamins and supplements.
  10. Reap greater values for sponsorships. If you’re supporting the local youth baseball team, provide flyers about common types of injuries and bandages with your pharmacy’s name on them, Jacobsen suggested. “Extend the conversation,” she said, to make the connection to the types of products and services your pharmacy offers. If one of your target markets is young women who attend crafting classes, provide a basket of bandages and a first-aid kit where they gather, in case they cut themselves.
  11. Work the calendar. Plan opportunities throughout the year to reach your target market. Partner with a florist before Valentine’s Day to provide a list of last-minute gifts available in your store and packets of aspirin with an explanation about how it can help preserve blossoms, Jacobsen suggested. Support local charity drives by becoming a donation center and offering discounts or free items to those who participate.
  12. Value referrals. To show your appreciation, offer a gift card or other reward to both the customer who refers your business and the new customer.

It is important for pharmacy owners to be aware that not only will younger consumers use the Internet and social media to learn about your business, they will also use social media to quickly post and share positives and negatives. These are wired, technically savvy consumers who are connected to other consumers.

Attracting Younger Customers Pays Long-Term Dividends

In calculating the value of younger consumers, don’t just think about their value today, as you may not see them that frequently in your store. But these are customers with whom you hope to develop relationships that will grow, and will last for decades and generations.

To calculate how much you can afford to budget to market to these younger shoppers, determine the lifetime value of a customer. Britton said when he recently spoke to a group of 70 pharmacists, only three knew that amount for their pharmacies.

Capture data so you know how much the average customer spends in your store each year, how much profit you receive from those sales, and how long customers remain loyal to your business. “It’s going to cost money now … but the benefits of this investment will accrue over the lifetime of the new customers you bring in,” Osteryoung said.

View attracting younger customers as a long-term investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

Note: The information provided here is for reference only and does not constitute legal advice. We make no representations with regard to the content’s comprehensiveness. You are solely responsible for investigating and complying with all applicable laws that govern the operation of your business.