A pharmacist's look at the supermarket and beyond

Month: September 2015

Moving Like to Love

The 2015 JD Powers pharmacy satisfaction survey has been released and supermarket pharmacies scored number one! With close to 15,000 customers surveyed the results are a reliable measure of OSAT (Overall SATisfaction). The 1,000 point scale looked at ease of Rx ordering (both new and refill), cost, pharmacist, support staff, and the impression of the store itself. Supermarket pharmacies edged out chain drug stores by a score of 851 to 842. As a point of reference mail order garnered an 822 score. The number one supermarket pharmacy was Wegman’s an East Coast chain that also made the Forbes 100 best places to work list. This growing chain stretches from Massachusetts to Virginia and has over 80 locations.
A couple key factors for high scores were highlighted. These include having an opportunity to speak with the pharmacist (adds over 50 points to the overall score) and having a private area for that discrete discussion with the pharmacist added a whopping 99 points to the score. It is plain to see the value of the pharmacist, as well as the importance of technicians that perform well and allow the pharmacist more time with patients. Here is an infographic from the 2013 study.
At our company we are constantly being asked to move our customers from liking us to loving us. This is based on the results of register tape surveys that are tedious, repetitive, and way too long. Despite having 98% of our customers satisfied, only 88% are highly satisfied, the “love” level that corporate craves. I submit that this type of survey system is flawed. It is apparent when you look at the results: “You would have to give me a 50% discount and lots of free shit for me to be highly satisfied,” wrote one respondent. Another typed “what a bunch of losers, I always have a problem every time I come here,” and then clicked Highly Satisfied. I see responses like that all the time as well as those that lavish praise suitable for saints and then click Dissatisfied. I find it hard to give much credence to such a survey. Nevertheless, our company spends big dollars and large chunks of time touting these survey results. We very nearly beg our happy customers to run home and do these surveys. This after plying them with fuel discounts, free samples and free candy at every check out register.
These scores are also part of the bonus structure. In the meantime, our labor allocation is shrinking making our jobs tougher and more stressful and hiring of technicians is inefficient resulting in many uncovered shifts, which ratchets up the stress levels even higher.
My latest observation is how another factor of our bonus is based on an aggregate metric score and that score is negatively impacted by deficiencies of the company that have nothing to do with employee performance. Who comes up with this stuff? A bonus is a nice reward and yet I do not expect it, plan on it, or budget for it. But if you are going to offer a bonus, at least make the parameters include things under my control.
What is very clear from all this is that happy employees create happy customers. That is apparent from the high Wegman’s score as well as my own observation of our own survey results. When morale is high and we have enough manpower to do a good job, our customers notice and our survey scores go up. Alas, the reverse is also true and lately, many enterprises are going through similar challenges as they try to boost the bottom line by putting labor hours in a vice and still expecting customers to feel love for what they do. What a crock.

Mayo Be, Mayo Be Not

A new California company is causing quite a stir in the world of mayonnaise. Hampton Creek, purveyors of foods named “just,” such as Just Cookies and Just Mayo is battling the big boys. The US egg industry is scrambling. Hampton Creek promotes their mayo as being better for you and better for the planet. Is it really mayonnaise though? Just Mayo The web site is a bit scanty on details but they have wedged their way onto supermarket shelves. The main claim is that they use no eggs and are planet-friendly.

The FDA and the US Egg Board have taken note and taken action. The FDA sent a warning letter to Hampton Creek identifying 3 different misbranding problems with the product label and the website. To condense and paraphrase these are:

  • 1. The RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed) is listed as 30 grams (2 tbsp) but the product contains 36gm of fat per 50gm it must disclose that fat content next to (“immediate proximity”) any claim of “cholesterol free.”
  • 2.The warning letter cites this statement on the website: “Your Heart Matters. When your heart is healthy, well, we’re happy. You’ll never find cholesterol in our products.” FDA then explains, “Adjacent to this statement is a heart shaped symbol with a smiling face. Together these statements and heart symbol are an implied health claim that these products can reduce the risk of heart disease due to the absence of cholesterol.” FDA notes that although there are credible health claims that lowered cholesterol improves heart health, the amount of fat in Just Mayo products disqualifies any such claim.
  • 3. FDA states that “mayo” is a well known shorthand for mayonnaise. As such, Just Mayo purports to be mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is previously defined by regulation as containing eggs. Just Mayo does not contain eggs and has other ingredients that do not meet the standard, regulatory definition of mayonnaise.
  • I suppose time will tell if any labeling changes appear on the Just Mayo label. Maybe the name will change too. How about, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Mayo!” Ooops, that’s been done.

    Meanwhile, the American Egg Board with a mission of protecting the $5.5 billion US egg industry, is trying various strategies to mash down these “egg replacers” that keep popping up. The Egg Board has tried and failed to keep Just Mayo out of the marketplace, most recently failing to keep it out of Whole Foods. Big Food ($60 billion) company Unilever (Hellman’s and Best Foods brands) has sued Hampton Creek, demanding that Hampton Creek (a private company that does not have to disclose its financial statements) to pay three times its profit in damages plus the legal fees. It also wants Hampton Creek to stop using the egg on its label; recall all products, ads and promotional materials that might confuse consumers; and stop claiming that Just Mayo is superior to Hellmann’s or Best Foods.

    When you dig into all of this, there is a complex melange of players. There’s the companies named above and others that make mayonnaise, the FDA, the Egg Board (funded by producers, oversight by USDA), retailers, and we the consumer, of course. One Egg Board email apparently jokingly asks if they should reach out to “a good buddy from New Jersey to “visit” Hampton Creek CEO John Tetrick,” perhaps with an offer he could not refuse? I found it interesting that Hampton Creek has Bill Gates and Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s #1 billionaire (maybe that’s pronounced Ka-Ching!) among its venture capitalists. It will be fun to see how it all sorts out…

    And finally, after reading that Hampton Creek claimed on its Facebook page that it beat Hellman’s in a taste test, I had to try it for my self. We are a Kraft Mayo family though, so that’s my taste test; Just Mayo v. Kraft Mayo. Here’s what I think…
    The Just Mayo was amazingly just like mayo! Appearance,and perception by other senses would convince you that this was mayonnaise. It does have a bit more tang, a slightly different mouth feel, and I found a slight, lingering oiliness after tasting it. But that was tasting straight mayo and how often do you do that? On a sandwich or in a deviled egg I don’t think anyone could tell a difference.

    Speaking of eggs, I guess this really comes down to whether you think eggs are unwanted in your diet or incredibly edible.
    The nutrition for the spreads in question looks like this:Just Mayo infoMayo info
    Just Mayo comes in at 90 calories per tablespoonful, all of those from fats. Kraft Mayo is the same. Both offer zero sugar and zero protein. Kraft Mayo states less than 2% egg yolk, presumably providing the less than 5mg of cholesterol. Much ado about nothing! Or almost nothing. But its a big market and the egg people want to keep their entire share. I also noticed that Miracle Whip, which is marketed right along side the mayos, is labeled a “dressing” even though it contains eggs. It does contain high fructose corn syrup though, so although lower in fat, not a great choice in my book. In any case, better to go light on the mayo or any of these fatty dressings! I’d hate to have to send a goodfella from Jersey to pay you a visit!
    Miracle Whip