I believe in local, independent business. I know that shopping small business keeps my money in the community and helps my community to grow and thrive. For most people, this same knowledge exists somewhere in the back of their mind, but even so, many consumers choose to shop big box stores over local businesses every day. If they even think twice about it, they justify the choice with any one of dozens of different reasons, and many don’t give it a second thought at all.
But the latest stunt from Walgreens may have some second guessing their patronage of the chain. Their recent announcement that they will no longer be a U.S. based company is likely to have a major impact on their image.* And since studies have shown that as much as 60% of a consumer’s choice to buy is based on perception, this profit driven faux pas can be used to the advantage of any savvy independent pharmacy. It’s time to exploit the latest chink in this chains armor by reminding your community what being a local business is all about.
Locally owned and operated. I’ve heard many different reactions from co-workers, friends, and family upon hearing about Walgreen’s plan to abandon U.S. citizenship in favor of a new locale with dramatically reduced taxes. Perhaps the most passionate response has taken the form of indignity that a company reaping all the benefits of operating in the United States would uproot itself from the country where it was founded simply to avoid the costs of doing business here. That perception in itself is enough to drive some consumers to do business elsewhere. Although it may seem like you need to remind consumers that you are a locally owned and operated business, advertising that simple fact might give someone the nudge they need to bring their pharmacy business to your store.
Helping the community thrive. It’s time to remind your customers that what they spend in your store, stays in their community. A portion of each purchase doesn’t line the pockets of some out of touch CEO halfway across the country, or worse, halfway around the world. It cycles in their hometown, creating jobs for their families and friends and helping the community to develop and prosper.
Giving back. Sure, many large corporations contribute to charitable organizations. And on the surface it probably seems like a lot of money, but it may actually be a lower percentage of their overall profits than many local businesses contribute. Don’t be afraid to tout your contributions and everything you are doing in your community. Again, keeping the money local can be an advantage here. Donating to a widely recognized national charity might look really good on paper, but contributions to more local organizations may strike a more relevant chord with your customers. Here you can view a video of our own Mike Gross discussing how RMS gives back to local communities.
If there was ever a right time to remind your community why shopping local is an important part of living local, it’s now. Take advantage of the controversy that the chain stores have created and use it to grow your pharmacy business.
*RMS would like to acknowledge that since the posting of this article, Walgreens has since announced that they will not be relocating their headquarters to avoid paying US taxes. We recognize that this action is unprecedented and is most certainly a step in the right direction. Nonetheless, at RMS we believe that buying local is the best policy and we encourage independent pharmacies to use the strategies outlined in this article.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customer service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.