CVS closures: Exploring consumer alternatives and retail pharmacy preferences
June 12th, 2024, Hoang Nguyen

CVS closures: Exploring consumer alternatives and retail pharmacy preferences

Pharmacy chain CVS has been shuttering storefronts nationwide including select pharmacies in Target locations citing “changes in population, consumer buying patterns and future health needs” as the main reasons.

The announcement of store closures raises a question for many customers: where will people turn for their prescription needs if their current pharmacy shuts down?

A new YouGov analysis sheds light on consumers’ potential behaviors, exploring how they’ll react to pharmacy closures, the alternatives that former CVS customers might consider, and the features and services people find valuable when it comes to the pharmacy retail experience.

Where would people go next for their medications?

The survey reveals some interesting trends regarding what people are likely to do when faced with a pharmacy closure, particularly considering age demographics.

  • Brand loyalty vs. convenience: The largest portion (39%) of consumers say they would choose a different pharmacy brand close to their home/work to fill their prescriptions in the event of a closure. There’s also a degree of brand loyalty, with 33% of consumers indicating they would remain loyal to the brand and transfer their prescriptions to another location.

  • Online prescriptions: The survey also highlights the interest in online pharmacy services, especially among those aged 65 and older. Close to a fifth (19%) of consumers 65+ say they would use an online pharmacy service if their current pharmacy closed. By comparison, a smaller percentage of other age groups (9-14%) would opt for online prescriptions.
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Considering the recent CVS closures, we investigated which retailers with pharmacies are most likely to be considered by former customers of CVS.

YouGov BrandIndex data reveals that former CVS customers are most likely to consider Walmart (66.4% would consider shopping there), Target (43.5%), and Walgreens (34.2%).

Wholesale retailers Costco and Sam’s Club also earn a fair share of purchase consideration from former CVS customers (34% and 27.4%, respectively). Interestingly, nearly a fifth of consumers would consider shopping at CVS again (19.9%) while Rite Aid (11.4%) or BJ’s Wholesale (8.9%) earn lower rates of consideration.

What retail experiences do pharmacy patients care about?

The survey also explored which pharmacy services people value most. Here's a breakdown of what consumers tend to prioritize:

  • Automated refill reminders: A clear majority across all age groups (64%) find automated prescription refill reminders valuable. This sentiment is held highest by consumers aged 45-64 (72%).
  • Home delivery: The convenience of home delivery holds significant appeal, with over half (55%) of respondents finding it valuable. Again, this number is highest among 45-64-year-olds (60%).
  • Curbside pickup: While less popular than the above options, curbside pickup offers a time-saving convenience valued by a third (33%) of respondents. Just a quarter of respondents ages 65+ find this valuable (25%).
  • Online scheduling: While online appointment scheduling with pharmacists holds appeal with just a quarter (26%) of US consumers, it finds significantly more traction with younger demographics. Nearly half (47%) of 18-29-year-olds and a third (35%) of 30-44-year-olds find this service valuable.
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YouGov polled 959 US adults online between June 4-5, 2024. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, race, political affiliation, education level and region. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-serve.