CVS Rebrands to CVS Health, Stops Selling Tobacco

I noticed a commotion in Bryant Park as I got off the subway yesterday. People in red shirts were holding balloons, standing inside giant hearts, and handing out lollipops. I walked over to the party and realized there was indeed something to celebrate: CVS has stopped selling tobacco.

To celebrate the end of tobacco sales, CVS filled Bryant Park with red hearts and a blow-up cigarette reading, "Cigarettes Out. Health In."
To celebrate the end of tobacco sales, CVS filled NYC’s Bryant Park with red hearts and a blow-up cigarette reading, “Cigarettes Out. Health In.”

The internet was buzzing with the news that CVS had announced it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its more than 7,600 stores, one month earlier than the original October target date. The plan was announced back in February, in a move that was lauded by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association.

But CVS also had another change to announce. The company has changed its name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health. Writing for the Associated Press, Tom Murphy says this reflects the trend of drugstores playing a bigger role in the health industry, in part because of Obamacare’s new options for receiving medical treatments and vaccinations.

Laura Ries, president of the brand consulting firm Ries & Ries, says,

“It’s an improvement off of Caremark, but it’s not some amazing thing that will change the world.”

I agree with her that most people won’t notice the change. None of the stores will be marked by the full name, and personally, I didn’t know CVS Caremark was the real name in the first place. But a broader and more general name like “CVS Health” allows for smaller branding opportunities within the different segments of the company. And there’s still the option of including the word “Health” in order to resonate with the company’s mission.

For example, yesterday’s announcement came with its own social media campaign. People were encouraged to post their #OneGoodReason to live tobacco free — and they did! How many times have you seen a drugstore do that and actually have people participate? Articles about the announcement also circulated across Facebook.

CVS reps were also handing out these "The Last Pack" tobacco quit-kits, filled with information, health stats, an activity booklet, coupons, and stickers.
CVS reps handed out these “The Last Pack” tobacco quit-kits, filled with information on quitting, health stats, an activity booklet, coupons, and stickers. The packs will also be available at CVS checkouts.

The loss of tobacco sales is expected to cost the company $2 billion annually. But CVS hopes to make that up as new parts of the business continue to grow, and people are noticing. Perhaps because of the announcement and all of the attention it’s gotten, CVS shares have gone up 22%. One thing is for sure. CVS has successfully positioned itself as a drugstore that truly cares about the health of its customers.

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