|Date:||October 7, 2014|
|Appearance:||CVS’s Expensive Cigarette Ban Shows It Puts Brand Before Profit|
You might have heard by now about the CVS drugstore chain’s recent eyebrow-raising moves. First, it stopped selling all tobacco products, to the tune of a $2 billion annual loss. Then, the company changed its name from CVS Caremark Corp. to CVS Health.
These moves were not simply timed in sync, they were deeply related in meaning. CVS Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, explained that “The sale of tobacco in a retail pharmacy conflicts with the purpose of the health-care services delivered there. Even more important, there is evidence developing that indicates that removing tobacco products from retailers with pharmacies will lead to substantially lower rates of smoking with implications for reducing tobacco-related deaths.”
This statement represents so-called “brand strategy” stripped down to its most fundamental kernel. The company’s purpose is articulated in a three-point narrative that isn’t an abstraction, but a concrete action: CVS is a health company, so it won’t profit from selling products that kill, and it might actually save lives by not making these product available in stores.