Execs: Next phase of strategy sharpens health, wellness focus
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Pharmacy has unveiled the next phase of its front-end strategy, including new store designs, more better-for-you food and health-focused products, expanded beauty offerings and informational signage storewide.
CVS said more than 800 stores nationwide have been remodeled with the new front-end design and assortment, and over 3,400 locations now have expanded food and beauty items.
Continuing the front-end upgrade program begun in 2015, the latest improvements are intended to spur growth in categories linked CVS’ “path to better health” mission while delivering an elevated shopping experience, the company said.
CVS gave a preview of the store enhancements and new health, beauty and food offerings at an interactive showcase for the media on Wednesday in Manhattan. Company executives also were on hand to explain the rationale behind the strategy.
“Pharmacy is the heart of our business, and our focus on providing care to patients and customers defines everything we do in our stores,” Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president at CVS Health, said in a statement. “Our new retail offerings leverage our deep expertise in health to enhance our customers’ shopping experience. The same guiding principles that led to the removal of tobacco from our stores extend to our commitment to deliver the most innovative health and beauty solutions.”
Plans call for CVS to implement the front-end updates at up to 70 stores this year and several hundred more next year. The company said the health-focused formats have 100 feet of new merchandise in health, beauty and healthier food and use a streamlined layout to highlight themes that make shopping easier.
Key health categories also are merchandised in “discovery zones” that take a holistic approach to care and product selections. Informational signage and educational displays make it easier for customers to find product categories and provide guidance to help them choose the item they need. Examples of solutions merchandised in discovery zones include connected health, sleep/mood and immunity.
Foulkes noted that the strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all. “We will continue to evolve the store experience as we test and learn in order to meet the needs of our customers in the ever-changing retail landscape,” she explained. “As we identify key elements that resonate, such as new product assortments, health services and other in-store experiences, we will find ways to bring them to life in CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide.”
In terms of selection, CVS said it’s broadening its assortment of vitamins and dietary supplements, including items from specialty brands like Irwin Naturals and New Chapter, plus expanded nutrition products such as Vega and Naturade protein powders and Navitas Organics Superfood Mix Ins.
The expanded better-for-you food choices include 27 new items under CVS’ Gold Emblem Abound brand. CVS said healthier consumables options — such as Alo Exposed Waters, EPIC bison bars and That’s It bars — will account for about half all food throughout the store.
CVS also is stepping up its shelf tag program to spotlight products that fit nutritional and dietary preferences, such as “heart healthy,” “good source of protein,” “gluten-free,” “sugar-free,” “organic” and “non-GMO project verified.” The company said it will start posting tags in non-food categories this summer.
“We did a lot of research to understand how to best serve our customers as we began to reimagine our store experience, and we found that people are thinking about their health differently and taking a more proactive approach to staying well,” according to Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business and chief merchant at CVS. “With that in mind, we crafted a new shopping journey, all in the name of better health.”
CVS, too, is upping the ante in beauty care by building on recent efforts to enhance the beauty shopping experience and product mix. The retailer is adding new, on-trend beauty brands like Wunder2 and Tigi Cosmetics and products with greater skin health benefits and more natural ingredients.
To entice customers to browse the beauty department, CVS has put up a new “trend wall” highlighting new launches and niche brands at 2,000 stores. A beauty discovery zone also displays on-the-go options at checkout. And this month, an exclusive Korean beauty section called K-Beauty HQ, curated by Korean beauty expert Alicia Yoon, will be available in more than 2,100 stores.
Along with the in-store enhancements, CVS said it’s boosting its mobile experience and ExtraCare Rewards program. That includes more ways for customers to order products online and pick them up through CVS Curbside, pay via CVS Pay, manage ExtraBucks Rewards, receive personalized deals and use manufacturer coupons from their smartphone.
CVS said its efforts to rethink the front end stem from its decision in 2014 to end tobacco sales. The company is now bringing that health and wellness strategy to the beauty, personal care, and vitamins and supplements categories.
The company plans to remove all parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde donors in products in the CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, Promise Organic and Blade store brands by the end of 2019. Also in that time frame, CVS is developing new standards for vitamins and supplements, including the requirement of third-party testing of ingredient listings and product testing for certain ingredients of concern.
In February, CVS announced that it was the first national retail pharmacy chain to remove artificial trans fats from its store-brand food products. The company said it also recently removed all sun care products with an SPF lower than 15 from shelves and expanded products with SPF 30/broad spectrum, natural beauty brands and products focused on skin health.