Industry sector:

Pharmacy: Market research


Estimating demand

Income for your pharmacy business is likely to come from two main sources, so as a first step, make an estimate of:

  • the income you are likely to receive from NHS work
  • the income you are likely to receive from sales of items such as health care products, toiletries, cosmetics, photographic equipment, digital media printing and so on

Competition

You will face competition for NHS dispensing work and other NHS services from any other pharmacy in your area. Competitors include 'one stop' primary care centres, Boots, the national pharmacy chains that are becoming increasingly widespread, and pharmacies located in retail parks, business parks and supermarkets. You may also face competition from the increasing number of mail order and internet pharmacies. If you will be located near a surgery or medical centre you are likely to benefit from most of the patients bringing their prescriptions to you to dispense. This will give you the opportunity to also sell them medical and non-medical items.

You will almost certainly sell a wide range of non-prescription medicines, health care products, cosmetics, toiletries and so on. Very many other outlets also sell this type of product (for example the supermarkets have significantly increased the exposure given to vitamins and supplements, cosmetics, toiletries and baby products) and, wherever possible, it would be a good idea to stock specialist ranges of goods that are not so widely available. You might consider complementary therapy products or items such as incontinence products and daily living aids for elderly or disabled customers.

If you are buying an existing pharmacy the vendor will be able to let you have details of the number of NHS prescriptions dispensed, NHS fees and allowances and income from the retail side of the business. However, market conditions are subject to change and it's sensible to do as much research as possible to establish whether previous performance is likely to be achievable in the future and whether you can improve on previous results.

One of the first things to do is check out the competition. Find out who your competitors are and what range of products and services they offer.

Your customers

It's also important to research your local catchment area to establish who your customers are likely to be and which goods and services they are likely to want. This might immediately help you to identify a niche in the market which is not being filled. For example a newly constructed sheltered housing development might enable you to stock a range of items of particular interest to the elderly and to offer the New Medicine Service (NMS), to help them manage their medication. A nearby sports centre might bring in many customers looking for food supplements, support strapping, pain relief preparations and so on.

Use the record sheets for your market research.