CVS brandBy Tom Dougherty
5 February 2020
The CVS brand just keeps getting…better
More than five years ago, the CVS brand positioned itself as a truly health supporter by refusing to sell cigarettes. And five years later, the brand stands as the market leader among national pharmacies in the US with 24.2% market share.
That’s because, in an industry in which location matters far more than it should, CVS captures a true brand position. By stating who it is for (those who want to be healthy) and who it is not for (those who don’t care). Most of us fall into the former camp, even if we don’t always live that way. But, in our minds, we aspire to that.
Now, the CVS brand continues to smarten up. Its latest ad campaign centers around the theme of “CVS customers are better,” then listing the reasons why. Such as “always staying on their prescriptions.”
“Mainly, because the CVS brand is about the customer and not the brand. It’s identifying who the CVS customer is, something few brands (let alone in the pharmacy category) accomplish.”
The health position CVS took five years ago allows the brand to make that claim. Basically, it’s believable. It wouldn’t be believable from Walgreens, which sports a very confused brand. Walmart could say its customers are smarter because of the lower costs, but its overall brand already suggests that.
Positioning yourself as best never works. So why does this “better” messaging from the CVS brand work?
CVS brand identifies the customer, not the pharmacy
Mainly, because it’s about the customer and not the brand. It’s identifying who the CVS customer is, something few brands (let alone in the pharmacy category) accomplish.
How would you define the Walgreens customer? The Rite Aid customer? You can’t, because those brands lack definition.
In addition, “better” is much more defensible than “best.” It’s a comparable word, while “best” is an over-claim that’s easy to ignore.
The competitors of the CVS brand must take note because depending on location for market share is a losing game when a competing brand appeals to target audiences emotionally.
Some years before CVS stopped selling cigarettes, we told a competitor that it should do exactly that. The company balked, saying cigarettes accounted for too much of its sales. We told them you couldn’t have an emotional pharmacy brand by selling something harmful.
If only they had listened. CVS smartened up, and now it’s getting…better.
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