CVS wants its beauty images to represent real people
At NRF, the pharmaceutical giant announces an end to airbrushed images
Wrinkles? Acne? Under-eye bags? Real people have them, CVS says, and real people should see them in the images they see everyday.
To that end, President of CVS Pharmacy and Executive Vice President of CVS Health Helena Foulkes said the company will do away with beauty photos in its stores, on its website, and on social media that have been “altered digitally” starting in April, and will phase out all retouched beauty images by 2020. Brand partners that choose to continue producing altered images, Foulkes said, will soon have to clearly identify them to shoppers as modified.
Eighty percent of CVS shoppers, Foulkes said, are women, and most of them feel the media has set an unhealthy standard of beauty. Part of making customers feel “good, not insufficient” about the way they look requires presenting more images that show people in ways that are “more realistic.”
Going forward, the company says, images that don’t “change a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles or other individual characteristics” will bear a watermarked CVS Beauty Mark. 
“We’re in an incredible moment of women’s empowerment right now where women feel very much in control and willing to share what they’re thinking. I think this is a reflection of what women are saying and feeling,” Foulkes told NBC correspondent Joe Ling Kent at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show in New York on Monday.
The move to eliminate altered images, Foulkes said, is as much about having a positive impact on society as having a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. “Hopefully what we’re doing here is creating a broader movement that will make girls and women think about us differently as a partner they can really trust,” she said.
The announcement, Foulkes said, is just the latest in a series of recent steps by CVS to further brand itself as a company that puts customer health first. She pointed to the company’s 2014 decision to stop selling tobacco products , and its move last month to merge with Aetna, one of biggest U.S. health insurers. “I think in all these decisions we’ve made we’ve thought about doing well by doing good,” she said.
There is, Foulkes said, “a tremendous amount of change going on in retail.” Keeping up with the pace, she said, requires “leapfrogging” over rising expectations and always considering the customer experience in stores, online, and in the spaces in between.
“All of us are feeling the bar going up,” she said. “It can be stressful, but to me that’s what’s exciting.”
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