Amazon Pharmacy: Potential Launch Would Have Substantial Impact Across Europe

November 08, 2021

online retail

We conducted a representative consumer study to investigate the effects of Amazon Pharmacy’s potential market entry in the UK, France, and Germany. The conclusion in all three markets surveyed is clear: current players should prepare for the oncoming tidal wave.

Ever since Amazon acquired PillPack in 2018, and relaunched the online pharmacy as “Amazon Pharmacy” in the US in late 2020, speculations about a possible expansion into the European pharmacy market have been widespread. The UK is predicted to be first on their list, since Amazon already filed for trademark with UK authorities in 2020.

To better understand the repercussions of a potential launch of Amazon Pharmacy in Europe, we surveyed 3,000 adults of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, in the UK, France, and Germany, to find out if they would buy from Amazon Pharmacy and why.

Would consumers be open to buying pharmaceutical products from Amazon Pharmacy?

The short answer is yes – with some differences across geographies.

We found the UK to be the most open market: 41 percent of current Amazon customers, and as much as 47 percent of current Amazon Prime customers would buy pharmaceutical products from Amazon Pharmacy.

Germany seems to be the most reluctant of the three markets surveyed: 17 percent of current Amazon customers, and 25 percent of Prime members would buy from Amazon Pharmacy. The French consumers are somewhat more open: 21 percent of current Amazon customers, and 29 percent of Prime members would buy from Amazon Pharmacy.

Even among current Non-Amazon customers, we found potential buyers for Amazon Pharmacy. In the UK, 10 percent, and in Germany and France respectively 5 percent of current Non-Amazon customers would purchase pharmaceutical products from Amazon Pharmacy.  

On the one hand, for stationary and online pharmacies and retailers, this would likely further reduce their customer base and revenue. On the other hand, it might lead to further positive spill-over effects into Amazon’s non-pharmacy offering by promoting traffic and facilitating cross-selling on their sites.

As far as the pharmacy market is concerned, Amazon could directly become one of the top online pharmacies, gaining as many as 20.5 million customers in the UK, 8.8 million customers in Germany, and 6.4 million customers in France.

What is it that would drive customers to buy from Amazon Pharmacy?

Across geographies, customers would mainly buy Amazon Pharmacy products for reasons of convenience and price. Such as, free and reliable delivery, and having the ability to combine purchases with other products.

What speaks against purchases of pharmaceutical products from Amazon Pharmacy?

In the UK, France, and Germany, Non-Amazon users stated three main reasons against Amazon Pharmacy: 

  1. Lack of consultation and healthcare services 
  2. Lack of experience and medical expertise
  3. Loyalty to current pharmacies 

Amazon’s market power is also named as a top reason against the pharmacy by German consumers. As expected, price is the least relevant argument against Amazon Pharmacy.

From these results, it can be assumed that the launch would have serious implications for all three markets surveyed. By gaining significant market share, the brand would be in a strong negotiating position, especially with over the counter (OTC) manufacturers.

There is also the possibility that Amazon could broaden its offer to sell OTC generic medicines under its private label “Basic Care” – as it did in the United States. This would put further pressure on manufacturers of easily substituted products and generics.

What can manufacturers do to prepare?

  • Recognize Amazon (Pharmacy) as a channel to be reckoned with and review your channel strategy, including developing a dedicated Amazon strategy. Which role does / should Amazon play? Which product in your assortment should you promote via Amazon?
  • Figure out how to best cooperate with the internet giant? (requirements, delivery and model, etc.)
  • Understand what organizational set-up is required on your side to execute this strategy and cooperation approach, globally and locally

Are you concerned about the effects Amazon Pharmacy could have on your business? Would you like to get further insights on the results of our study? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts!