WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health is dedicated to helping people on the path to better health, says vice president of store brands and quality assurance Cia Tucci.
“Millions of people rely on CVS Health brand of O-T-C products every day. As a pharmacy innovation company, being bold is part of our DNA in store brands. We are relentlessly focused on providing customers with high-quality, innovative products that meet our customers’ unique needs and help them live their lives to the fullest,” says Tucci. For her work on the rebranding of CVS Health, the company’s flagship line of over-the-counter products, and for her contributions to the retailer’s general excellence in store brands, Tucci has been named by MMR as one of its Six Executives Who Made a Difference in 2017.
Before the rebranding, CVS Pharmacy had already done extensive consumer research and discovered the enterprise name CVS Health resonated strongly with customers because it underscores the company’s commitment to quality and health.
The rebranded and repackaged line has quickly garnered positive feedback from customers. Currently, CVS Health is the No. 1 brand sold at CVS Pharmacy, with sales more than two times higher than the next closest brand; it is the No. 1 brand in the health care business and No. 1 in all the retailer’s core health care categories, Tucci points out.
“A ‘store brand’ is no longer considered just a value play — same item, less cost,” she says. “Expectations of the products purchased are becoming brand agnostic because it’s about delivering relevance to our customers when and where they need it. At CVS Pharmacy, our focus is to create brands and products that not only meet the needs of our customers but exceed their expectations with innovative, effective and quality products at an affordable price.”
CVS Pharmacy has a proud heritage of leadership in developing innovative and successful store brands, she adds, citing CVS Health, Gold Emblem, Gold Emblem Abound, Beauty 360, Makeup Academy, Skin+Pharmacy, and Promise Organic, and is proud to be in tune with customers’ needs. “For us, innovation starts with our customer. We are continually listening and talking with customers, understanding their needs, developing insights — all of which inform our product development process. The exciting aspect of this work is that customer needs are constantly changing, which means we are always looking at what’s new, what’s top of mind and how we can be relevant where they need us most.”
This includes being on the forefront of such trends as the fast-growing K-Beauty business, as well as removing ingredients or chemicals customers do not want in their products. In April, CVS committed to removing, by the end of 2019, parabens, phthalates and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors (ingredients that combine to make formaldehyde) from over 600 beauty and personal care store brand products. “This is an exciting step forward for our brand and for our customers who helped shape this new positioning for us,” Tucci says.
When it comes to balancing demand for the CVS Health brand with continued demand for national brands, CVS Pharmacy understands that each customer has a unique set of wants and needs and it offers both national and store brand products to meet those needs. “We know we have to win over customers, just like any other brand does,” Tucci remarks. “Today, our customers are looking for a more holistic approach to staying well, so we’re carefully curating the right assortment of products in both our store brands and national brand offerings. We want to ensure customers have a choice but we also want to gain their trust for our exclusive portfolio.”
The retailer is featuring new, unexpected products in store brand lines such as cold/cough products that are free of artificial dyes and preservatives; products that can only be found in medical and hospital settings such as the Advanced Wound Care line; and “boutique” name brands on shelves that could previously only be found in specialty stores. Combining these unexpected finds with products more typical to a drug store gives CVS customers the unique array of products and choice they want and deserve.
Many consumers today want products with simplified ingredients as part of their personal health and wellness goals, and CVS Pharmacy wants to offer access to products that reflect that. Promise Organic is formulated with 100% naturally derived ingredients that replenish and nourish skin and are suitable for babies, children and adults, while Gold Emblem Abound features snacks and grocery items free from artificial preservatives and flavors, with zero grams of trans-fat.
“CVS Pharmacy store brands are far more than just generics or alternatives to national brands,” Tucci emphasizes. “Over half of the products in our CVS Health brand are non-NBE products.”
Another example is the new flavors and ingredients in the Gold Emblem Abound line, including habanero white cheddar quinoa chia chips, sweet sriracha chickpeas and fruit & chia bars, which combine popular flavor profiles with on-trend ingredients.
Exclusive store brand beauty offerings are expanding to meet existing trends and the wide variety of customers’ needs. Beauty and personal care essentials from Beauty360 are making it easier than ever to get head-to-toe professional results at home. Skin+Pharmacy, a dermatologist-tested skin care line clinically proven to treat specific skin concerns such as acne and the signs of aging, launched two new serums this summer. Makeup Academy, developed by makeup professionals and launched in 2014, continues to be one of the best-selling exclusive brands at CVS Pharmacy, offering lashes, lips and makeup brushes. Just this summer the retailer expanded Makeup Academy into the face category and launched on-trend color correcting, illuminating, mattifying and contouring items. “These exclusive lines help ensure our relevancy with her in how she thinks about her beauty needs,” Tucci says.
As consumer preferences evolve, the retailer is leading the shift from mass marketing to personalization to deepen relationships with its most loyal customers. CVS Pharmacy was the first retail pharmacy to launch a customer loyalty card, notes Tucci, pointing out that today, 79 million people in the U.S. have an ExtraCare card. “ExtraCare helps us better understand and have access to our most loyal customers so we can continue to evolve our offerings and ensure our messaging and merchandising resonate.”
The company draws on a wealth of data from the ExtraCare Rewards program to gain a deeper understanding of what customers want, she adds. The loyalty data supplements several other means of collecting data, including focus groups and shop-alongs. “The rich information we tap into helps us understand what is resonating well with our customers, what we may be able to expand or change and what products, trends or merchandising is resonating best with our most loyal customers.”