Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of pharmacies has seen 18 big chains compared based on their service & advice, range of products, prescription availability & dispensing, availability of pharmacist, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Do you know your local pharmacist by his or her first name? A lot of Australians do. Even if you don’t, you may still recognise them when passing in the street and say hello. That’s because a good pharmacist and pharmacy is integral to the community it serves, providing not just a place to dispense prescriptions, but somewhere for people to go with any health-related concerns and questions that may not require a trip to the doctor, as well as a place to learn more about living a healthier lifestyle and pick up numerous related goods. A local pharmacy provides an essential – almost universally trusted – service many would be lost without.
But not all pharmacy chains are created equal. And at a time when more and more weird and wonderful names are popping up in our suburbs and CBDs – not to mention online – it might be worth trying a new one. Not just because they may have a broader range of products to browse, but because the customer service and support could be even better than you’ve previously experienced. The aim of our research is to find out which of Australia’s many pharmacy chains are offering the best service and value, and which have room to improve.
You may think that pharmacies generally fall into two categories – the discount stores where you can bag a bargain on your favourite makeup and vitamins, and the ones where you probably pay a bit extra but the focus is more on quality services than cheaper prices. This is probably a fair way to summarise some chemists, but with 18 chains featuring in our latest review, others could surprise you. So, which pharmacy chain topped our customer ratings this year? To find out, we asked more than 5,000 Aussies about their experiences.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 pharmacy review saw 18 major chains compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:
Despite plenty of chains qualifying for our review, five-star ratings were scarce, with only three brands earning the top result. In addition to PharmaSave, Guardian was the only other chain to score five stars for service and advice provided, while Chemist Warehouse scored the only five-star rating for value for money, in addition to sharing the top spot with PharmaSave for range of products.
The title of Australia’s best-rated pharmacy has been shared around a bit in recent years. PharmaSave replace Pharmacy4Less at the top of the standings in 2019, following success for Guardian and Blooms the Chemist over previous years. With so much competition in our suburbs and city centres, consumers can vote with their feet if they’re not entirely satisfied with the service and value they receive, which is good news for helping to drive up standards in store, you’d like to think.
Despite there being so many pharmacy chains available – as well as a number of smaller, locally-owned chemists – we’re often creatures of habit when it comes to picking up our prescriptions or medications. However, with the increased competition for our pharmacy dollar, this could be changing. This year, we found that 42% of survey respondents generally stick to the same pharmacy chain – down from 61% at the same time last year. Of those who stick to the same pharmacy, we asked them why they kept going back, with answers including:
Some pharmacy chains clearly focus on low prices, while others put greater attention on providing quality services and support. In addition to finding out which pharmacy chains are highest-rated in Australia, Canstar Blue’s research also identified what drives customer satisfaction once we go in-store. Drivers of satisfaction are listed in order of importance below:
While getting bang for your buck is important to many, receiving good service and advice to get you back to feeling your best was the biggest driver of satisfaction amongst survey respondents this year.
However, just 63% said they trust the advice they receive from pharmacists – a huge drop from 93% last year – meaning that while we want the best advice, more of us are taking it with a grain of salt. Perhaps another consequence of the sudden growth in the number of pharmacy chains?
With pharmacies offering more than just over-the-counter meds, there’s plenty to consider when it comes to choosing a pharmacy chain to keep going back to. While finding a pharmacy that’s easy on the wallet will win over some shoppers, having a pharmacist that is friendly, or stocks the products you’re after, can be the deciding factor in a market that isn’t short on options.
Ultimately which pharmacy chain you decide to visit, and will keep visiting, will come down to personal preferences, as well as other factors such as location and budget, meaning that it’s always best to shop around to ensure that you’re getting the deal, and the best service.
Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com, Aleksandar Karanov/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have made a purchase from a pharmacy in the last 6 months (refers only to physical pharmacies, not online ones) – in this case, 5,280 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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