Welcome to Health

I went into my local CVS Health yesterday looking for, well, health. It’s probably no surprise to anyone other than the CVS Health marketing team that I didn’t find it.

What I found was what you’ll find in any CVS Health across the country — an array of snack foods, lots of soda, a couple of aisles of groceries and cleaning products, a large selection of mainstream cosmetics and beauty products, an increasing array of CVS-branded over-the-counter drugs next to their branded siblings on the shelf, and a pharmacy counter in the back of the store.

Convenience products – check.

Football-watching snacks – check.

“Grab ‘n Go” fast food – check.

But not a whole lot of health.

In fairness to CVS Health, their main claim to the new name and brand is what they no longer have in the stores: tobacco products. Behind the cashier, where cigarette racks used to be, there are smoking cessation products and signage alerting customers to the healthier life they might lead without tobacco.

But that still doesn’t stop the nagging sensation that this effort on the part of CVS is less about standing up for what’s right or even communicating what’s true about their brand, than it is about seizing a market opportunity to rebrand themselves.

The right way to seize an opportunity

Taking advantage of changes in the market to differentiate your brand and offering from the competition is the right way to build a better business. But if you’re going to stake a claim that will truly build your brand, you’ve got to do more than design a new logo and issue a press release.

There’s a huge opportunity for CVS Health to actually buck the trend among the competition and stop trying to be a one-stop/convenience/grocery store and just be a drugstore. Remember those? The place where you went to get your prescriptions filled but also to get advice and products related to sickness and health. A place where you went with minor ailments that weren’t worth a visit to the doctor, where an on-duty pharmacist was able to point you in the right direction. A place to actually find “health.”

But doing this means that CVS Health will have to not only change the goods, services and experience offered in its 7,600 stores across the country — it will also have to have the discipline to actually stand for the brand it claims.

Dropping tobacco — a product with waning appeal and ever-increasing regulatory challenges — is easy. Dropping sugar-laden soft drinks and empty-calorie snack foods will be much harder — but absolutely necessary if CVS wants us to believe it’s actually CVS Health.


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