ShopAbility interviews a new mum on her pharmacy shopping behaviour since the birth of her first child, for Retail Pharmacy Magazine.
Back in the April issue of RP, when we covered digital, mobile and social media, we discussed how important the young family lifestage is to pharmacies and how digitally connected mothers are.
In the first of a number of ‘shopper’s eye views’, here we interview Jennifer*, a new mum, about how her pharmacy shopping has changed since the birth of her now 5 month old son Jack*. It demonstrates just how valuable this lifestage is to pharmacies and some things pharmacies can do to increase the frequency and traffic of new mums.
How would you describe your use of pharmacies before you had Jack, when it was just you and your partner?
I really only ever went to pharmacies to get a script filled, and I had multiple pharmacies I would do that in depending on where was closest to me at the time. I’d buy cosmetics from Priceline because they were cheaper there, or from department stores because they had a better range of the more upmarket brands I like to buy, like Clinique. And I would buy vitamins from the supermarket. I had never shopped from an online pharmacy.
What’s changed since you had Jack?
When I first had him, my mum said ‘You’ll be in the chemist every second day for something’. I didn’t believe her. But I really was, for the first month or two, because I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t really set up properly and I needed advice on all the things the baby requires, or there was always some new issue cropping up.
That’s slowed down a bit now, but what has really changed is that I buy for my baby rather than myself. And I buy in bulk. Pharmacies are my one-stop-shop for baby products. So it’s easier and cheaper to do that online or in discount chemists like Chemist Warehouse.
Where do you shop pharmacies now? How many pharmacies do you shop at?
A few different ones, for different reasons.
I shopped at The Pharmacy Leichhardt online twice in 4 months. I like them because you get free delivery with transactions over $100 and it’s pretty easy to get to that amount when you’re buying nappies and disposer unit refills in bulk. And they deliver to my home which saves me the whole rigmarole of putting the baby in the car seat and having to drive somewhere.
I was going to Chemist Warehouse weekly but that’s slowing down a bit now. They have a nappy loyalty program, something like buy 10 get the 11th free, that we use.
We also go to YouSave Chemist because they have a baby club that we earn points in, I’m not sure what we can use the points for though, as my husband signed us up for that. But what was great about the baby club was when we joined we got a sample bag, which is fantastic when you’re a new mum and you don’t know what you’re getting into and what products are any good. You can try a whole bunch of things for nothing. It takes some of the risk away … if they’re in a sample bag, they must be alright.
I also sometimes go to a local pharmacy in Lane Cove near where I live because I can get a park easily there.
What are the most important things you look for in a pharmacy?
Aside from the loyalty programs and the ability to buy in bulk cheaply, there’s a few things I expect pharmacies to have.
Firstly that they have nice, proper brands that someone else has recommended to me, not just brands you see in the supermarket.
Specialist baby products like shampoos for babies with ‘cradle cap’, thermometers you put above their eyebrow not up their bum or in their ear, and curved nail clippers.
And discounted nappies and refills for nappy disposal units. These are the biggest ticket items we have to buy all the time and they are the number one hot topic in our mums’ group. They are the traffic driver and dictate what pharmacy we are likely to choose that week and we tell each other what’s on special where. I will occasionally buy nappies in the supermarket rather than the chemist, along with infant formula, if they’re on special.
What do you thing pharmacies could do better to cater to new mums?
Advice on all the things likely to happen to the baby or that it will get, that I will need to have treatments and solutions for.
The ability to actually get the pram into the pharmacy! Lots of them have narrow doors or aisles and I won’t go there because it’s too hard and I’m worried about knocking things over. Pharmacies need ramps to make it easier, and this applies for old people in wheelchairs too. Make it easier for new mums to physically visit.
It’s clear from my above conversation with Jennifer, which was eye-opening in a number of respects given I don’t have kids, that pharmacies succeeding in baby have specialist baby brands and products, probably a loyalty program, competitive nappy and disposer refills pricing, a direct delivery option and a physical store that prams can actually traverse.
There’s a tension between price and convenience, but in talking to Jen it sounds like convenience might win if the price offer is good enough (but not necessarily too good).
And because the mothers’ group word of mouth is so strong, member-get-member programs or similar would work a treat once you’ve earned their trust.
Get those things right and you’ll attract mums with very high spend per transaction. And it’s very frequent spend.
*names have been changed.