Retail Health Clinic Engagement Rising; May Be Key to Supercharging COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

  • Nearly half (48%) of retail pharmacy customers used at least one health and wellness service in 2020, up significantly from 2019 (43%)
  • One in five (20%) customers spoke to a pharmacist during their visit, up from 16% in both 2018 and 2019
  • When customers use two or more health and wellness services, overall customer satisfaction and brand advocacy increases, and average customer spending doubles

The race toward normality is on.

With the December issuance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of emergency use authorizations for both Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccines—soon to be followed by a likely authorization in late February of Johnson and Johnson’s one-shot regimen—municipalities around the world are acting quickly to inoculate as many of their citizens as they can.

As of the middle of February, the United States is averaging more than 1.6 million vaccine doses administered per day, with many states having set up mass vaccination sites at universities, stadium venues and parking lots. But the fulcrum to getting more shots quickly into the arms of Americans may just be retail health clinics.

That’s what the Biden administration is betting on. The President recently announced that the federal government will begin directly distributing a limited number of vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies across the nation. And considering Americans’ current love affair with these types of clinics, it could prove to be a well-designed strategy to break down a major barrier to mass vaccination.

According to the J.D. Power U.S. Pharmacy StudySM, pharmacy expansion into primary care is driving significant increases in both customer satisfaction and consumer spending. The ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in a place that carries inherent familiarity and comfort could help overcome some vaccine hesitancy. And that may be enough to finally put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.

Health and Wellness Utilization at Pharmacies See Gains

Multiple trends may prove to be key indicators that Biden’s bet on pharmacies could pay off. Nearly half (48%) of customers used at least one health and wellness service in 2020, up five percentage points from 2019 (43%).

Health and Wellness Utilization J.D. Power Chart

What’s more, customers who use health and wellness services are not only significantly more satisfied than those who do not, but these customers are also significantly more likely to advocate for the pharmacy. Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®)1 for customers who used pharmacy health and wellness services in 2020 were 13 points higher than those who did not use health and wellness services.

The Drug Store Influencer

Respondents also indicated that pharmacies who developed health and wellness services have done so by effectively fostering engagement between the consumer and pharmacy staff.

Physician recommendations for pharmacy-delivered health and wellness services are associated with an 80% utilization rate, recommendations from friends and family are associated with a 75% utilization rate, and recommendations from pharmacist of their staff was 64%. But when asked how they heard about pharmacy health and wellness services, 26% said the pharmacy staff compared with 8% from doctors and 9% from friends and family. This shows the true power of point-of-delivery engagement.

The Drug Store Influencer J.D. Power Chart

Big Opportunity and Bigger Rewards

While these trends are encouraging for retail pharmacies, opportunities in this space still exist. With over half of pharmacy customers still not using health and wellness services, there’s a significant share of the market to be captured. And with both long-term brand loyalty and short-term financial incentives to be had, there’s plenty of reason to keep growing this service line.

The more customers utilized health and wellness services, the more likely they were to cite overall satisfcation and advocacy. When customers use two or more health and wellness services, overall satisfaction moves above 900 points (on a 1,000-point scale), and the likelihood the customer will be an advocate for the pharmacy increases as much as 27%. Additionally, customers that use two or more services spend, on average, twice as much at that pharmacy.

Big Opportunity and Bigger Rewards J.D. Power Chart

It’s clear that pharmacies have uncovered a way to directly affect their customers’ health and wellness, while creating a more inviting, and ultimately, satisfying customer experience. Not only does this have the potential to positively influence both population health and local business, it could also help the country rise to meet the greatest need in a generation. Contrasted against filing into a massive, unfamiliar college campus, it’s no wonder why the Biden administration thinks it can make meaningful vaccination gains by putting these doses directly into the community.


This J.D. Power Healthcare Insight is based on a wave survey from September 2019 to May 2020 and based on the respondents of 9,077 retail pharmacy consumers.

Find out More

This J.D. Power Healthcare Insight was authored by James Beem, managing director of Healthcare Intelligence at J.D. Power. Please contact us at the numbers below to connect with Mr. Beem, or to learn more about the underlying research.

1Net Promoter,® Net Promoter System,® Net Promoter Score,® NPS,® and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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Geno Effler
J.D. Power - West Coast
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