Following an announcement made in February of this year, CVS has officially removed all tobacco products from the shelves of its 7,800 pharmacies around the nation. This action coincides with the company’s decision to change its corporate name from “CVS Caremark” to “CVS Health”, as the company sharpens its focus on America’s health. CVS is the first major nationwide retail chain to eliminate tobacco products since Target did so in 1996.
And, as portrayed above, CVS has re-branded its website. As a CVS consumer myself, I also received an email from CVS this morning: “Today we are tobacco free. Your health is our #OneGoodReason for removing all tobacco products from our stores.”
Will CVS lose sales to tobacco lovers now shopping at Walgreens? Maybe. The more likely scenario is that the company has evoked an incredible emotional response from its consumers, which will inevitably impact the sustainability of the brand.
“Policy is the new 5th ‘P’ of marketing.” – Forbes
According to a Forbes article back in February when CVS first made this announcement, “…this week’s policy move by CVS did more for the brand than 10 years of promotion could ever do…an outcome like that is every marketer’s dream, and CVS achieved it not by ‘saying’ something to us, but by ‘doing’ something for the world.”
Interestingly, even after CEO Larry Merlo proclaimed an expected $2 billion dip in annual revenues as a result of eliminating tobacco, CVS shares have increased about 22% since the tobacco-free announcement in February.
So, perhaps the take-away is that making money doesn’t have to come at the expense of doing good after all.