Do Pharmaceutical Customers Behave as Patients or Consumers?
The objective of this paper is to identify the characteristics of what makes retail pharmacies able to guarantee and ensure better customer satisfaction. We have identified the core attributes of retail pharmacies as well as the factors that can contribute to better customer satisfaction in a regulated economic context (pharmacies being in a monopolistic situation regarding the sales of medicines). The aim of this analysis is to check if pharmacies’ customers behave as patients or consumers. If the factors linked to the consumption of pharmaceutical products have similar contributions to those noticed for traditional consumer goods (food, clothes and so on), pharmacists will be able to regard their customers as consumers. If it is not the case, the customers will be assimilated to patients, regarding pharmaceutical products as non-traditional consumer goods. The “tetra-class model” (Llosa, 1997) of factors contributing to satisfaction during a pharmacy service experience will serve as the tool for apprehending the role of different pharmacy characteristics in the satisfaction process. We found that French customers seem to behave more as patients than customers in pharmacies. Managerial implications can be deduced. In front of the counter, this research shows that merchandizing at the sales outlet has no effect on the patient’s satisfaction. However, it is worth noticing that the self-service area does contribute to consumer satisfaction. Behind the counter, pharmacies’ customers behave as patients when purchasing drugs; medecines still remaining a nontraditional product. French customers do not seem ready to purchase medecines from a self-service area. As a result, pharmacy owners can adjust pharmacy service elements to increase the satisfaction level of their customers