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Retail clinics popular with high earners

Survey finds higher-income households use retail clinics more than lower-income households

Contrary to conventional thinking, retail clinics are being used more by people with higher incomes than those with lower incomes finds a recent study by Kalorama Information.

In a survey of 2,000 adults on consumer attitudes about retail clinics, Kalorama, a publisher of market research reports, found that 59 percent of survey participants who said they used retail clinics had a household income of more than $50,000, while only 16 percent had a household income of under $25,000.

[See also: Retail clinics gain in popularity]

“What you’ve got is a person with money (visiting stores),” said Bruce Carlson, Kalorama’s publisher.

While Kalorama didn’t collect data on why higher-income customers used retail clinics, Carlson speculated that those with a little extra money, even if they see a regular physician, feel comfortable spending money out-of-pocket for the convenience that retail clinics offer, while those with lower incomes may not feel they can afford to spend any money on healthcare services.

The stores are taking note that higher-income customers are using retail clinics, Carlson said, and are specifically marketing to those consumers.

To appeal to wealthier customers, he said, retail clinics, and especially chain stores, are encouraging customers to spend more by offering packages, like summer camp physicals, weight loss programs and prenatal care. They also may offer customers who are using their retail clinics coupons and special offers to get them to shop in their stores.

Carlson said this marketing practice developed out of the early days of retail clinics, when clinics folded as fast as they opened because they couldn’t charge enough for their healthcare services to sustain themselves financially.

“You look at what Target, CVS and Walgreens are doing,” he said, “they’re reacting as this isn’t like some kind of provision for low-income people to get care. They’re treating it as a service that they need to increase the profit on and try to appeal to wealthier customers.”

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