- CVS is expanding an initiative to promote healthy products and demote less healthy ones at its pharmacies by moving candy displays away from the prime real estate near the checkout counters, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The move comes as the pharmacy retailer jockeys to differentiate itself from rivals like Walgreens and Walmart. Walgreens, the Journal reports, has taken some measures like offering smoking cessation assistance but is less focused on promoting healthy behavior than CVS. “Walgreens Boots Alliance says it isn’t a retailer’s job to keep shoppers from their vices and that consumers should be able to make unhealthy choices if they want to,” the Journal reports. “But like CVS, it is trying to boost sales by appealing to a more health-conscious shopper.”
- Meanwhile, Walmart is expanding its presence in health and pharmacy services with a new partnership with Quest Diagnostics to offer lab services at 15 Walmart locations in Florida and Texas.
As CVS tries to associate its brand with good health, the drug store retailer is taking its emphasis on living well a step beyond offering healthy fare — by hiding the bad stuff.
CVS in April unveiled a new store design as well as a revamped selection of health-focused food, beauty and other products. At the time, CVS said it would give 100 feet of space for new products centered around healthy living.
CVS also said it would reduce chemicals in consumer products and ensure the safety of supplements as part of its health mission. Additionally, CVS released plans to remove artificial trans fats from its exclusive store brand food products, sell only sun care products with SPF 15 or higher, expand products with SPF 30/broad spectrum, and add natural beauty brands and products focused on skin health.
The retailer will no longer carry suntan oil or sunscreen with SPF lower than 15 that don't protect against cancer, according to the Food and Drug Administration, as part of these recent merchandise changes.
These efforts followed the company’s removal of tobacco products three years ago, a move that so far its rivals have declined to emulate. Several Walgreens shareholders in January pressed the company to follow suit, noting CVS studies (most recently published in February) demonstrated that its decision to halt tobacco sales has led to an overall decrease in smoking among Americans. The shareholders noted the inconsistency of selling tobacco with Walgreens’ position as a healthcare provider. One investor then expressed concern that tobacco sales could damage Walgreens’ brand.
Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business and chief merchant of CVS, said in April that its initiatives were motivated by customers, who are increasingly focused on their health. "We did a lot of research to understand how to best serve our customers as we began to re-imagine our store experience and we found that people are thinking about their health differently and taking a more proactive approach to staying well," she said. "With that in mind, we crafted a new shopping journey, all in the name of better health."