Published on February 13, 2014

BLOG: CVS lights up, but not with cigarettes

AKRON (Feb. 13, 2014) — If you would have asked me about CVS Caremark Corp. in January, I would have commented on the ease of its MinuteClinics or a deal I heard about.

Fast forward to Feb. 5 and all anyone has been talking about is the company's decision to stop selling cigarettes.

The news shot around the Internet like wild fire. Various news outlets had their takes on the announcement the company would be phase out cigarette sales by Oct. 1, 2014. There were posts galore from businesses and consumers alike on social media sites. It was my entire News Feed for two straight days.

People stand on opposite sides of the fence. Some think this is a great first step for the store and hope other drug stores, such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, will follow suit. Others think it's a little hypocritical to stop selling cigarettes but still sell other items that are deemed unhealthy. After all, who hasn't had too much of a bottle of wine, err, a bag of Doritos after a bad day?

Regardless, this news is everywhere. And what does this mean? It means that CVS made a decision and encouraged people to share the news. And share they did.

Was it a branding tactic? Will people be persuaded or dissuaded to shop at the national chain? Time will tell, but I don't think anyone could deny that the decision put the brand on people's minds.

I think Forbes magazine said it best: "Where did I read, hear or see that information? Everywhere. And that's because CVS successfully encouraged people to share the news."

I think, as a business professional, there are two things to take away from the announcement.

CVS conveyed a message quickly that was able to catapult in all platforms: radio, print, website, social media, etc.

Forbes broke it down further, explaining that CVS built a dedicated landing page at www.cvsquits.com that housed all the information anyone would need.

It said: "In two short paragraphs the CVS press release made it easy for radio and television reporters, as well as bloggers and consumers, to digest the basics—what they're doing and why they're doing it."

As a business owner, you can launch different kinds of branding information all the time. Why not make it as easy as possible for people to share that news?

A second point to take away from the CVS announcement: There are consumers who care about a company's corporate social responsibility.

People are either commending or condemning the CVS decision. Either way, there are consumers out there who will either be more for shopping at CVS or will choose a different corner store. It's the same as some of the social responsibility efforts I have read about in the tire industry, such as tire recycling. If a consumer supports the same organizations that a company does, some consumers may be more likely to do business there. Everything that is done in business can have an effect.

Do you think that CVS is getting its desired reaction or is it facing backlash? Email your comments to tirebusiness@crain.com.

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