announced seven months ago that it would ban cigarette sales in its 7,600+ stores as of October. The goal is to strengthen the brand's positioning on the core benefit of helping consumers be healthy.
As part of its marketing plan for branding and positioning, CVS began removing tobacco products from its stores today, a month ahead of schedule. This attracted a lot of media attention because the retailer also changed its company name to CVS Health and initiated a smoking cessation campaign. According to the CEO, "The contradiction of selling tobacco was becoming a growing obstacle to playing a bigger role in health care delivery."
The company is promoting the results of a new CVS study showing that removing tobacco products from its stores leads some percentage of shoppers to kick the smoking habit altogether.
Its marketing plan calls for opening hundreds of new MinuteClinic in-store health facilities within three years, bringing shoppers in when a child has an earache or for other minor medical needs. Positioning CVS as the go-to brand for health could also further enhance its ability to expand private-label products, which typically yield higher margins than non-store brands.
The CVS move to drop tobacco this week comes as the media world is gearing up for Stand Up to Cancer on Friday night, a nationwide entertainment industry initiative to raise money for cancer research.