Pharmacy habits – How Americans buy prescription medicines and which retailers they frequent
May 2nd, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Pharmacy habits – How Americans buy prescription medicines and which retailers they frequent

Which factors determine where Americans go to buy prescription medicines?

Data from YouGov Profiles shows that over two in five Americans (43%) choose a pharmacy based on convenience, opting to go to the location closest to their place of work or home. Cost can also be a decisive factor, with 15% of people saying they go to a pharmacy with the best prices. On a related note, a recent YouGov survey found that one in 20 Americans (6%) expect to take on debt this year to pay for health services.

Another 15% of respondents indicated that they go to a pharmacy they or their parents have always gone to, highlighting the importance of loyalty and familiarity in healthcare decisions. The data also shows that a small percentage of people (9%) use online pharmacy services.

We further look at retail pharmacies used by consumers based on the factors that influence their purchase choice. According to the data, nearly two in five Americans who prioritize convenience when choosing a pharmacy go to CVS (39%), the largest pharmacy chain in the country. Walgreens comes in second with 31% of respondents preferring it due to its location.

Consumers who want best prices indicate they frequent Walmart (43%). A third of price-conscious customers visit CVS and Walgreens (30% each). Target, which is now CVS pharmacy, is more likely to attract consumers looking for the best-prices (15%) than, say, convenience (6%).

CVS ranks the highest in another category – heritage customers. Among consumers who stick to pharmacies that they or their parents have always gone to, 32% of respondents indicate they go to CVS.

Local independent pharmacies are reasonably popular among consumers, especially among those who prefer purchasing from the same pharmacy they or their parents have always gone to (21%). Local pharmacies are also attracting a decent share of consumers who prefer going to pharmacies with the best prices (18%) and based on convenience (16%).

CVS leads the pack in the online space too. Around a third of consumers (34%) who use an online pharmacy service use CVS. Other pharmacies that rank high in this category include Walgreens (25%) and Walmart (14%). However, nearly half of consumers say they use services of other pharmacies not listed in the survey (49%).

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for the United States is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles

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