With the advent of COVID vaccines, conventional pharmacies have a unique chance to take the lead in their industry

Most companies have to shift their value proposition and image at least once in their lifetime to remain relevant in the face of evolving consumer needs and market disruption. Doing so, however, remains one of the most difficult tasks that brands can undertake, and many fail trying. Such a shift calls for complex, precise strategies that require a company to align itself with its new identity at every opportunity—no easy task.

Pharmacy is one industry that is grappling with just such a shift. Over the last couple of years, the sector has been flooded with online players that deliver medication directly to consumers’ homes—for example:

  • Amazon’s online pharmacy Pill Pack, which has gained significant traction
  • Canadian start-up digital pharmacy Pocket Pills, which saw use of its platform increase by two thirds in the first few months of the pandemic

With more options on the table, consumers no longer need traditional pharmacies quite as much.

But now, with the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, these retailers have a unique opportunity to reinforce their value and strengthen their healthcare leadership. The American election has passed, and the attention of North Americans has fully returned to COVID-19 and—more specifically—the development of vaccines.

However, despite the immense importance of these vaccines, no organization has officially taken charge of the messaging surrounding development of vaccines and what it actually means for consumers.

As a result, consumers are piecing together information from various headlines and water cooler conversations, resulting in confusion and misinformation. While it’s clear that a number of companies are now making significant progress on a vaccine, many people still don’t know when they might expect it or how it will affect them.  

For conventional pharmacies, this confusion and lack of a trusted source of information provides an opportunity for them to fill the void by:  

  • Positioning their businesses as go-to vaccine experts through regular communications that filter and simplify the mass of information
  • Updating the communications—for example, reports—on an ongoing basis and delivering/promoting them across the following channels  
    • In-store displays and infographics that link to an e-newsletter or article via QR codes (“Scan this for the latest on vaccine development”)
    • Emailed newsletter updates that enable consumers to sign up for information as well as enroll in loyalty programs
    • Apps and digital portals
    • Printed collateral including direct mail, in-store flyers, and information packages
  • Building on already strong consumer trust, and the fact that pharmacies are permitted to share this kind of information  

In reinforcing the position of traditional retailers, such a campaign would also address what is now a very pressing consumer pain point. The brand that steps up and takes on this role stands to strengthen its foothold in the increasingly competitive Canadian healthcare market.