CivicScience | Insight Report: Researching the Personas of CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens Fans

Insight Report: Researching the Personas of CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens Fans

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Publication Date: October 29, 2014 | Download as PDF

Consumer market research for drugstore retail chains

Report Overview: This Insight Report from CivicScience examines the profile of retail drugstore shoppers of these three leading U.S. chains:

  • CVS
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens

In early 2014, drugstore executives stated concerns about how their customer base and revenue might be affected by the final implementations of the Affordable Care Act. After all, drugstore chains today are doing more than just selling prescriptions and health products; they are also providing health services such as health screenings and monitoring, immunizations, and evaluation and diagnoses of minor injuries and illnesses. Retailers like CVS and Walgreens are partnering with hospitals and health systems in order to take advantage of the revenue opportunities of newly insured Americans.

And as these drugstore retailers continue to expand their geographic reach and store numbers across the U.S., consumers now have greater choice among these very similar retailers. Where CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are all present in a given geographic market, do consumers really prefer one over the other?

With the continuously changing healthcare landscape, CivicScience and its InsightStore™ platform can give these retailers a detailed look into their more loyal customer base, allowing them to provide better service to their current and future customers. By keeping up with consumer research, drugstore chains can be on top of their marketing and advertising strategies.

CivicScience focuses this Insight Report on the three leading U.S. drugstore chains. CivicScience polled 2,751 people from September 24, 2014 to October 14, 2014 on their preferred drugstore chain with the question:

“At which drugstore chain do you prefer to shop?”

We eliminated the 26% of respondents who did not shop at any of the three retailers. Walgreens and CVS were the most preferred, followed by Rite Aid. This could largely be due to the number of retail stores across the U.S. Walgreens has the most retail stores (at over 8,000), followed by CVS (7,600+) and Rite Aid (about 4,500).

We then mined the data to develop more detailed consumer personas among the drugstore customers, based on their preferred retailer. Due to the retailers’ locations, some of the demographic and psychographic differences could be attributed to the varying geographic locations. Although all of the drugstores are located across the U.S., some have a larger presence in certain regions. 

Drugstore Chain Consumer Demographic Insights:

Drugstore consumer research and demographic insights

Some highlights that we see from the demographic insights:

  • Rite Aid tends to draw an older consumer base than CVS and Walgreens.
  • Walgreens is 33% more likely to attract the preference of parents than Rite Aid, whereas Rite Aid is 41% more likely to attract grandparents than Walgreens.
  • CVS is more preferred by those currently employed and making a middle class annual income of $50K-$125K.
  • Walgreens is favored more by urban dwellers, and Rite Aid by rural residents.

Beyond demographics, we next cross-tabulate these respondents against hundreds of other CivicScience poll responses they have provided over time, to generate even deeper psychographic profiles of their behaviors and sentiment on a wide variety of topics. 

Health and Wellness Insights:


Shopping Behavior Insights:


 Technology Insights:

Drugstore consumer research and technology and entertainment insights

 Entertainment and Sports Insights:

Drugstore consumer research and sports insights


As we can see from these psychographic insights:

  • CVS consumers like to purchase products that allow them to explore and try new things, they closely follow trends and current events in health and fitness, are less likely to smoke, like Macs over PCs and are more interested in sports than the other groups.
  • Rite Aid consumers use debit cards or checks for most of their purchases, they consider themselves spendthrifts, visit health professional more each year than others, exercise more often, are more likely to have a landline home phone and subscribe to a print newspaper.
  • Walgreens consumers are more likely to seek out online reviews, make most of their household’s purchases, say they didn’t visit a doctor in the past year due to costs, are more likely to watch local news and belong to Facebook than the others.

In Summary

Even though these drugstore chains are very similar in their offerings and have greatly expanded their geographic presence in recent years, there are clear areas of statistically meaningful difference in consumers who prefer to shop at one retailer brand vs. another. Part of this could be proximity to work or residential locations, making it more convenient to pick up prescription drugs, but it also could be a brand perception by the consumers themselves.

Although the Affordable Care Act has shaken up the healthcare industry, drugstore chains are finding innovative ways to deal with the changes. One way to ensure a healthy future is for the retailers to be continually aware and informed of their customers’ lifestyles, interests, values and opinions, allowing them to better plan their future strategy – and to be aware of the personas of their competitions’ fans too.

It will be interesting to track the drugstore retailers in the coming months to see if their customer base changes, especially with the news that CVS and Rite Aid will not be using Apple Pay. Apple Pay enables consumers to use their iPhone to pay at the register, eliminating the need to carry cash or debit/credit cards. Depending if Apple Pay catches on among consumers, CVS and Rite Aid may see a shift in their customer base, which we will continue to track in the future.

Download as PDF.

About the CivicScience Methodology:

CivicScience collects real-time consumer research data via polling applications that run on hundreds of U.S. publisher websites, cycling through thousands of active questions on any given day.  Respondents are 100% opt-in with no incentives or compensation; they answer just for fun and are kept anonymous, allowing for greatly reduced bias and higher levels of engagement.  The 2,751 respondents for this report were weighted for U.S. census representativeness for gender and age, 18 years and older, and data was collected from September 24, 2014 to October 14, 2014. Using its technology, CivicScience builds deep psychographic profiles of these anonymous respondents over time, providing valuable consumer sentiment data to the decision makers who care. The CivicScience methodology has been validated by a team of academic leaders and by independent consulting firms. CivicScience currently has more than 28 million anonymous consumer profiles stored, growing daily.