“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s words ring especially true when considering the recent news of CVS’s announcement to end the sale of tobacco products in an effort to better reflect their mission as a healthcare purveyor.
The first major pharmacy chain to pull tobacco from its shelves, the CVS announcement has the media buzzing about the implications of what many are calling a major step forward in the pharmacy industry’s return to a more healthcare-oriented focus.
The most appealing part of this massive turnaround is that it actually takes a page directly from the company’s core values. Out of sync with its essential purpose and willing to forfeit upwards of $2 billion in revenue to re-align, CVS’s bold move will ultimately help the retailer generate more loyalty from both customers and employees who see the value in making this dramatic change for the better in their daily business.
Sometimes we all need to “dust off” our values and ask ourselves if we’re truly living in concert with them. As CVS CEO Larry Merlo said: “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
Appealing To A Growing Group Of Health-Conscious Consumers
From a customer experience perspective, you may be scratching your head as to why a drug store chain would decide to abandon what seems like a key demographic of customers who shop there for tobacco.
While the loss in revenue may be dramatic, statistics show consumers are increasingly kicking the habit and looking instead to invest in a healthy lifestyle. The move to finally ditch cigarettes––and be one of the first major chains to do so––has this group and others applauding the store for what they see as a decision that’s long overdue.
Standing Out With A New Kind Of Customer Loyalty
In addition to getting back to its core purpose, the move sends a clear message to consumers looking for the best pharmacy among a handful of choices.
While healthcare costs and the headaches that can come with buying medication and health supplies can be a burden on consumers no matter where you shop, this development from CVS will no doubt give them a reason to stand out among competitors.
And by eliminating the products that do so much harm, they’ve shown they’re invested in their customers’ health, thereby taking the first step toward creating a connection that goes beyond just selling. In fact, they are demonstrating an active commitment to their customers’ wellness––something Walgreens and other pharmacies have yet to do in such a bold and dramatic manner.
The Takeaway For Retailers Looking To Realign Themselves
A lot can be learned from CVS’s big move for those who want to follow in their footsteps and realign themselves with their company’s mission. I like to call it an “inside out” approach. In other words, first look inside at your company’s values and purpose and create alignment throughout your organization. Then extend that alignment outwards to your customers.
In the case of CVS, values not revenue is now driving the proverbial bus, and I imagine their most loyal customers will applaud them for getting back to their roots as a purveyor of wellness and good health. So stack it alongside Apple’s move into physical retail or Zappo’s revolutionary promise of free shipping (both ways) and a 365-day return policy—CVS’s decision to forgo tobacco sales in the name of their core values is truly one of the most dramatic retail decisions of the 21st century.