As winter settles, so do those winter sniffles. Stuffy sinuses and heavy heads become a part of life when the temperature drops, and we’re left lamenting how we took the ability to breathe through our noses for granted.
Thankfully, local pharmacies are always on hand to load us up on lozenges and medicine, and any other prescriptions needed to cure what ails. But with so many pharmacists to choose from, which is on hand to deliver the best advice, the best range of products, and the best prices to keep us in tip-top shape?
As part of our mission to help consumers make the right choices, Canstar Blue surveyed Kiwis who had made a purchase from a pharmacy in the past six months, to rate their experiences across the following categories:
- Overall Satisfaction
- Prescription Availability & Speed of Dispensing
- Service & Advice Provided
- Range of Products
- Value for Money
- Availability of Pharmacist
Coming out on top and winning Canstar Blue’s 2022 award for Most Satisfied Customers | Pharmacies is Unichem.
Unichem is the clear favourite in this year’s survey, as the only provider to earn top marks for Overall Satisfaction. Kiwi consumers prescribe Unichem a further three 5-Star results for Prescription Availability & Speed of Dispensing; Service & Advice Provided; and Availability of Pharmacist. It also earns an excellent 4 Stars for Range of Products.
Looking at what Kiwis value most, Prescription Availability & Speed of Dispensing (28%), and Service & Advice Provided (25%) are the clear priorities. This highlights the fact that Kiwis expect to walk into a pharmacy and get the assistance they need, promptly, with no fuss or bother.
Unichem earns a single 3-Star result, for Value for Money. Interestingly, while Kiwis are price-focused in the majority of Canstar Blue’s consumer awards, the same doesn’t apply for our pharmacy award.
Just 16% of those surveyed rated Value for Money as the most important factor, ahead of only Availability of Pharmacist. This shows that Kiwis put a high value on good health.
New Zealand’s favourite pharmacies
Here are New Zealand’s favourite pharmacies, based on our survey results:
- Chemist Warehouse
- Life Pharmacy
- Bargain Chemist
- Countdown Pharmacy
Looking beyond our standout winner, Kiwis are very happy with their options. Chemist Warehouse, Life Pharmacy, and Bargain Chemist all score 4-Star Overall Satisfaction ratings, plus one or more 5-Star results. Countdown Pharmacy scores 3 Stars for Overall Satisfaction.
Top Providers: Pharmacies
Below is an overview of the top pharmacies, according to our survey results:
Unichem is one of the most recognisable pharmacies in the country, operating over 250 New Zealand owned-and-operated stores.
In addition to stocking a wide range of quality natural health products, over the counter medications and beauty essentials, Unichem provides services such as Coeliac disease testing, blood pressure checks, a number of vaccinations, bowel health screening, medicine management, warfarin monitoring and more.
Unichem also offers its Living Rewards program. For every dollar you spend in store, you earn 1 Living Rewards point. For every 150 points, you earn a $10 Unichem voucher. You also get access to Living Rewards exclusive competitions, promotions and offers.
Landing on Kiwi shores in 2017, Australian pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse has quickly earned a reputation for offering an unrivalled range of products, at unrivalled low prices. At Chemist Warehouse, you will find aisle upon aisle of brightly coloured price stickers on everything from ointments to lipstick, and toothpaste to perfumes. As a result, it earns 5 Stars for both Range of Products and Value for Money.
Furthermore, Chemist Warehouse offers free prescriptions on all government fully subsidised prescriptions (usually $5).
Despite Chemist Warehouse offering in-store pharmacists and free prescriptions, it is often regarded foremost as a discount health and beauty retailer. Reflecting this, it earns just 3 Stars for Prescription Availability & Speed of Dispensing, and Service & Advice Provided.
Life Pharmacy is owned by Green Cross Health, alongside our award winner Unichem. A well-known and trusted brand, Life Pharmacy scores an excellent 4-Star Overall Satisfaction rating.
Aside from prescriptions and a great range of health products, Life Pharmacy offers vaccinations, health checks, ear piercings, passport photos, beauty products and more. They’re also commonly located in malls and local shopping centres, so you can pick up your health essentials alongside the rest of your shopping.
Like Unichem, Life Pharmacy offers 1 Living Rewards point for every dollar spent.
In this year’s survey, it scores 5 Stars for Availability of Pharmacist, 3 Stars for Value for Money, and 4 Stars in all other categories.
Bargain Chemist is a relatively new pharmacy chain; it opened its first store in Christchurch, in 2018. Now, it operates 14 stores nationwide, and has plans to continue expanding over the coming years.
Aiming to deliver the cheapest heath and beauty products, Bargain Chemist offers a Price Beat Guarantee. If you find a cheaper price on any identical product from a New Zealand pharmacy, Bargain Chemist will beat it by 10% (excludes online-only retailers).
Like Chemist Warehouse, it also offers free prescriptions.
In this year’s survey, Bargain Chemist scores 5 Stars for Value for Money, 3 Stars for Prescription Availability & Speed of Dispensing, and 4 Stars in all other categories.
You can now find a Countdown Pharmacy in 38 Countdown stores nationwide. As they operate seven days a week, you can simply drop off your prescription and the pharmacist will prepare it while you shop. Also, Countdown Pharmacies offer free prescriptions on all government fully subsidised prescriptions.
All Countdown Pharmacies have private consultation rooms, so there’s no need to worry about privacy being an issue.
In this year’s survey, Countdown Pharmacy earns 4 Stars for Value for Money and 3 Stars in all other categories.
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.