Herd Mentality

   It would be nice to get some independent thinkers in management positions at some of the large retail pharmacy chains.  Unfortunately, they are either non-existent or outnumbered by the herding masses of group think. 

   One of the more frustrating things about working for a large company that operates multiple pharmacies is the concept of corporate level herd mentality.  Why do all major pharmacy chains copy bad ideas from their peers in the industry? 

    Just because one company comes out with a ridiculous pricing structure like Walmart’s $4 generic list doesn’t mean the rest of the community pharmacy world is somehow required to follow suit.  Let the bad ideas and the companies that birth them fail on their own.  The rest of us should be able to safely watch the implosion from a distance.

    But reality tells us that if Walmart or whomever thinks blister packs is a good idea, we all somehow end up with long flat packages of 30 pills that our elderly patients constantly complain are difficult to open.  Why is that?

   Chains don’t dare contemplate being different because of a fear of losing precious revenue dollars.  But what if the ideas they so deperately want to mimic actually hurt the bottom line?

    My company clings to their $25 transfer coupon promotion like our future depends on it despite obvious flaws to the program.  Have you ever calculated how much front end merchandise a customer needs to buy to make up for the $25 you just gave away at the pharmacy?  The numbers are staggering and unrealistic.  

    That’s why the recent surprise CVS announcement that they are going to phase out cigarette sales from their stores by this October interests me so much.  I can’t help but wonder what the other big chains will do in response. 

    Independent thinking is a dying breed in the business world.   But if the unique challenges of community pharmacy should teach us one thing, wouldn’t that lesson be a willingness to look beyond the white noise of our competitive landscape to find better ways to serve our patients and customers? 

    I guess I just get frustrated by the herd mentality on this kind of grand scale.  And I admire the small independent pharmacies that think outside the box and implement new ideas out of a necessity to compete with their bigger competitors. 

    The herd mentality has resulted in bad ideas surviving way past their expiration date.  And in my mind it’s time to move on to bigger and better things in our world of community pharmacy.

     Are you ready to put on your thinking caps and come up with some original ideas?  The better question might be will anyone hear your thoughts through all of the noise of the herd?  I sure hope so!

The Redheaded Pharmacist

1 Comment to “Herd Mentality”

  1. By LD50placeboeffect, March 23, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

    Herd mentality and ‘group-think’ are concepts applicable to all sorts of categories of people. One might think there’s more diversity in a pharmacy college-educated crowd, that they’ve less of the herd ‘mentality’ than other groups, just because of increased exposure to different sorts of educators in the pharmacist curriculum. Could it be that pharmacists surround themselves by the generally less well-educated, and less diverse, and allow decisions made for their profession by those less-informed. and why is that, then?


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