Demographics: Key Considerations When Placing Urgent and Primary Care Clinics

Demographics: Key Considerations When Placing Urgent and Primary Care Clinics

By Morgan Atkins

With so much competition for patients among healthcare providers, picking a convenient, attractive spot for your new facility is crucial. As covered in an earlier post, we’ve considered six key factors for the successful placement of a new primary care or urgent care clinic. In this post, we’ll take a deeper look at the sixth consideration on that list: demographics. 

If you’re not targeting the right demographic, all other considerations are essentially irrelevant. To look at it another way, all five of the other considerations are dependent upon demographics. It doesn’t matter how good parking is if the patients you're hoping to attract won’t come to that area. If your proposed clinic doesn’t have any competition, that could be because your competition is right in the heart of your target demographic while your location is outside the viable radius (or perhaps it’s the other way around).

The importance of the right location to serve an intended audience is a consistent concern across every industry. Even when considering retail placements—whether clothing, electronics, groceries, or restaurants—all have a specific demographic group they are trying to reach. For efficiency and optimal results, retailers targeting similar groups cluster together to grab the attention of those groups. For example, Tiffany & Co stores are often found next door to Burberry and J. Crew, but generally not Burlington Coat Factory or TJ Maxx.


Broadly speaking, there are three types of retail establishments:

  1. Stores targeting people looking for a deal. These companies offer “rock bottom prices,” discounts, and provide no shortage of coupons.
  2. Shops targeting a more affluent population who are willing to spend more for higher quality (or at least the perception of higher quality).
  3. The middle ground, where the first two groups tend to overlap. These stores offer affordable options with the right atmosphere that can be appealing to all audiences. 

The rules that apply for retail placements are transferable to primary and urgent care placements. The goal is the same: pay attention to the demographics of an area when opening new facilities. In this post, we’ll use the demographics of four different grocery store chains, and the retail offering that tend to co-locate alongside them, as examples of how demographics drive retail. We’ll then connect the dots and give a high-level overview of how each grocery store’s demographics offer tell-tell signs of what kinds of primary and urgent care facilities would be helpful nearby.

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Piggly Wiggly

This chain, with locations throughout the south and in a few midwest states, tends to attract less affluent customers. Piggly Wiggly shoppers have limited disposable income and are driven by their tight budgets to look for ways to get the most out of every dollar. They infrequently travel, shop, or go out to eat. Food consumption includes meals at home with a relatively heavy dose of fast food. This group is far more focused on quantity than quality. In short, Piggly Wiggly shoppers want more “bang for their buck,” and they want their retail experiences to be quick and convenient.

Companies that tend to co-locate with this grocery include Goody’s, K-Mart, McDonald’s, Golden Corral, and likely some thrift stores.

From a healthcare standpoint, these areas will likely see the highest proportion of uninsured and Medicare/Medicaid patients. Chronic diseases and unhealthy lifestyle will be common issues.


Publix grocery stores generate business from upper middle class and wealthier populations with substantial levels of disposable income. Importantly, these shoppers tend to be more health-conscious. When they shop, it’s for quality products. “Natural” and “organic” are characteristics Publix shoppers often look for in the store. Additionally, customers go to Publix for its established brand name. The company has a strong reputation for excellent customer service and clean stores, both features that keep people coming back. Anecdotally, Publix shoppers may be more loyal to the brand and therefore willing to travel slightly further (and pay more) to shop there. Publix customers don’t mind spending more money and traveling further in exchange for better service, higher quality food, and nicer facilities.

People in this group tend to eat out at sit-down restaurants more often. When they do pursue fast food, it is more likely to be Chic-Fil-A than McDonald’s. Other retailers that cluster with Publix are stores such as Nordstrom, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and Target.

Lack of insurance will likely not be an issue with this demographic. Acute conditions may make up a greater proportion of medical visits, although visits related to chronic diseases and conditions associated with geriatric populations will certainly occur.


Whole Foods

Similar to Publix, but another step up in terms of socio-economics, Whole Foods caters to people with plenty of disposable income looking for the highest possible quality and the social cache of buying all-natural. Wealthy individuals shop here along with Millennials who are more focused on the details of what they consume.

Individuals shopping at Whole Foods will likely be interested in medical care that is top of the line as well in terms of high-end facilities and personalized care. The standard is extremely high quality, personalized, and comfortable, with a modern and trendy feel. Cost is secondary to experience for these patients.



The world’s largest company by revenue attracts a broad population, including families and discount shoppers (sometimes, but not always overlapping demographics). Wal-Mart is often associated with simplicity and good value, along with rural living. However, the superstore is actually utilized by a relatively varied demographic due to its convenience as a one-stop shop. It is important to note that Wal-Mart is currently promoting the value of its fresh food, presenting it as an affordable option for people with less disposable income who are still interested in quality.

Wal-Mart clusters with other discount retailers and big box stores such as Home Depot. Restaurants in these shopping centers fit the fast, affordable model; for example, Chili’s Bar & Grill or Panera

Because Wal-Mart attracts both lower-income populations looking to buy cheap, and middle-class shoppers looking for quick deals, the opportunity for medical clinics is relatively broad. These populations will likely be a mix of insured and uninsured/Medicare. Speed and affordability will be important, with less emphasis on high-end facilities.


The Takeaway

Because no business can be everything to everyone, it’s important to define your target population. This understanding should dictate location, letting you unofficially “partner” with retailers targeting similar demographics. Use the above categories as a general starting point to help with this selection process.

When you are ready to begin evaluating potential locations for your next urgent and primary care clinic, connect with Stratasan to discuss your options. Stratasan’s Spark Services offer a comprehensive suite of tools and analysis that will help you evaluate the demographics of a potential location in order to streamline the selection process. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you zero in on just the right spot.

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Article by Morgan Atkins, Senior Director of Innovation for Stratasan

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