New Rankings Confirm We All Hate Chain Drugstores - Except for One

Consumers are fed up with chain drugstores — except for a surprising big box name.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Pharmacy checkout counter

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Customer satisfaction is a key indicator of business success, reflecting not only the quality of products and services but also the overall customer experience. Recently released data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) sheds light on the state of customer satisfaction in various industries, including drugstores. 

Where does your drugstore rank on the new list? And do the results make you think twice about the provider you're currently using?

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Customers more satisfied with drugstores overall

The ACSI Retail and Consumer Shipping Study for 2023-2024 provides insights into customer sentiments toward major drugstore chains and the industry as a whole. The results are based on interviews with 40,264 customers.

In the realm of drugstores, the 2024 data reveals a positive trend, with overall customer satisfaction ticking up by 1% to reach an ACSI score of 77 (out of 100). 

This increase signals that customers are generally more satisfied with their overall drugstore experiences compared to the previous year. The uptick in satisfaction can be attributed to several factors, including improvements in key aspects of the customer experience.

Key factors driving satisfaction

Factors like the quality and reliability of the store’s mobile app contributed the most to satisfaction, both of which increased this year over last. 

The actual layout of the store and its cleanliness were also major contributing aspects to overall customer satisfaction, with convenient location and hours as well as quality of pharmacy services rounding out the top five factors.

While customers prioritize affordability, they are not willing to compromise on brand names. The availability of brand names was another major contributing factor to customer satisfaction, implying that the real sweet spot for consumer success is providing cheaper prices for well-known household brand names and not just for generic brands of drugs and other goods — a niche Walmart tends to specialize in. In fact, it’s important to note that the 1% overall ASCI uptick this year was boosted by the overall 11% increase in Walmart satisfaction.

Anything but the big chains

Interestingly, while major pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid maintain relatively stable satisfaction scores, it's the category labeled "all others" that takes the top spot. This suggests that smaller, non-chain drugstores are excelling in meeting customer needs and preferences, possibly by offering more personalized services or unique product offerings.

It also suggests customers have become disenchanted by impersonal experiences big chains offer, but are willing to forgo this factor if met with significantly lower prices. 

While drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are major chains, they might not have Walmart’s capacity to offer exceptional convenience of service and cheaper products. In other words, customers want to be treated well, but the bottom line still comes down to a desire to save money shopping.

Walmart's pharmacy success story

Among the noteworthy findings is the significant 11% increase in satisfaction specifically for Walmart's pharmacy business. Walmart's jump in satisfaction underscores the importance of value and quality in the eyes of customers. Factors such as merchandise variety and pharmacy services contributed to Walmart's improved performance, aligning with macro trends where consumers increasingly prioritize affordability and convenience.

Beyond these factors, Walmart likely implemented strategic initiatives over the past year to enhance its pharmacy offerings further. These initiatives may include streamlining prescription refill processes, expanding healthcare services, or investing in digital solutions to improve the overall customer experience.

In short, Walmart’s winning combination of convenience of service and cheap prices make it hard to beat.

The full list of top drugstores ranked

Here's the full list of drugstores ranked by their ACSI scores out of 100 for this year.

  • All others: 82
  • Walmart: 82
  • Rite Aid: 76
  • Walgreens: 75
  • CVS: 74

Bottom line

Customer satisfaction in the drugstore industry is on the rise, with overall scores improving compared to the previous year. While major chains like Walmart show significant gains, smaller players labeled "all others" also demonstrate strong performance, highlighting the importance of catering to customer needs and delivering exceptional experiences. 

As the industry continues to evolve, prioritizing customer satisfaction remains paramount for sustaining growth and competitiveness as customers continue to value their financial fitness in combination with their health.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.