CVS recently made a choice that will really cost it—perhaps as much as $2 billion/year. After planning to do so since February, CVS stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores on September 2.
Does CVS’s product line elimination represent Mindful Marketing? The knee-jerk reaction is “Yes”! After all, how could getting rid of products that destroy people’s health and kill many of their users be anything but Mindful?
But then again, there’s the revenue. Granted, CVS sells over $126 billion in products a year, but $2 billion is nothing to sneeze at (no pun intended). Perhaps, therefore, CVS’s decision is more of a “Simple-Minded” one, i.e., a choice that nobly upholds societal values, but regrettably compromises stakeholder value.
CVS’s choice definitely was made with stakeholders’ interest in mind—not short-term return, but long-term value. Even with its name (CVS Health Corporation), the company is positioning itself for the future—one in which healthy living becomes increasingly important. Similarly, to offer products throughout much of its store that support health, then to sell others from behind the counter that destroy health, creates some pretty confusing retail branding and positioning.
CVS’s decision to drop tobacco products does represent Mindful Marketing. Now I wonder how long it will be until the company takes a careful look at the health impact of some of its other products, e.g., king-size candy bars . . . don’t expect that decision anytime soon.