Mount Hawthorn Community Pharmacy: a demographic shift

Mt Hawthorne Community Pharmacy

WA’s Mount Hawthorn Community Pharmacy is one of five finalists in the Guild’s Pharmacy of the Year competition.

The changing demographic of the local community spurred WA’s Mount Hawthorn Community Pharmacy to undertake a major change in its philosophical – and physical – approach.

Historically, Mount Hawthorn was made up of a large proportion of older residents and with such a large ageing population, the pharmacy was predominantly a dispensary-based business.

However, as regional business manager John Cao explained, over the past few years, many of the older residents have passed away or moved into aged care facilities, and because of Mount Hawthorn’s proximity to the city, it had become popular with younger affluent families.

“This has changed the nature of the business, and as a result we noticed a growth in retail sales, and a decline in dispensary sales,” Cao says.

“With an increase in young families, the baby category has subsequently become very important in our pharmacy.

“We decided to focus on babies, and have moved all our baby products to the front of the pharmacy to attract this emerging demographic.

“Now with the entire baby products range together in the front of the store, it makes it easier for mothers juggling their kids and shopping to purchase their baby needs at the pharmacy.

“We have also increased the size of the walkways to allow trolleys and prams to move easily and freely through the store.”

This approach has proved very successful but the challenge moving ahead is to remain relevant to customers in the current market place and continue to “win” in the areas that they are known for.

Cao says that when looking at the “Eight Ways to Win in Retailing”, the pharmacy has to continue to innovate, refine and strive to always improve its offer to maintain its competitive advantage.

“At Mount Hawthorn Community Pharmacy, we pride ourselves on being a leader in providing solutions to our customers,” he says.

“The customer is truly at the forefront of everything that we do.

“With the continual pressures on dispensary profitability, namely in the form of the $1 co-pay discount and the relentless expanded and accelerated price disclosure cycles, it becomes increasingly difficult to make up the dollars that are lost.

“By differentiating from the market and being a proven solution-based business, we hope to make up the dollars lost by retaining and satisfying our current customers while attracting and delighting new ones.”

Cao says being a part of the community is important to the pharmacy’s success.

“We are very engaged with the community outside of the store,” he says.

“We have been working with the local primary school to ensure we have sufficient stock (hair colours, zinc, sunscreen and so on) for students when they have their sports events.

“We assist with sponsorship of community fundraising events, which has helped the store and our staff build stronger bonds with the local community.

“We also regularly present at mothers’ group events organised by the shopping centre.”

Cao says despite the challenges of rebranding and repositioning the pharmacy, it has all been worthwhile.

“We have moved from the approach of trying to win the community on price to where we now focus on our value disciplines of operational excellence and customer intimacy,” he says.

“This philosophy totally aligns with our mission statement which is: ‘To be the solution to your family’s health needs’.”

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