CVS Caremark recently made headlines with their decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at all of its stores nationwide. While Target and most independent pharmacies stopped selling all tobacco products in the 1990’s, CVS Caremark is the first national drugstore chain to do this. The company cites this decision as “the right thing to do” as they believe that the “sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with [their] purpose – helping people on their path to better health.” Over the years, CVS has expanded beyond the traditional pharmacy and has slowly become one of the largest retail healthcare providers – the company now has more than 800 MinuteClinic locations across the U.S. By eliminating tobacco products from its stores, CVS is more closely aligning itself with its mission as a healthcare provider.
This change is a clear affirmation of APCO Worldwide’s Champion Brand philosophy. We believe that in this day and age of increased expectations a great brand acts as a champion for their stakeholders. CVS is one step closer to becoming a Champion Brand as they alter their business to support their mission of “helping people on their path to better health.” APCO Worldwide has four different dimensions (called the Four A’s) that define our Champion Brand model:
- Alignment: meeting stakeholders’ most important expectations
- Authenticity: acting in a way that is consistent with what a company says
- Attachment: the extent to which stakeholders connect emotionally with a company
- Advocacy: advocating on behalf of stakeholders’ interests, applying unique expertise and assets to add value to society
CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling tobacco products affirms the second A in our model: Authenticity. A Champion Brand – an authentic company – should be transparent and consistent in both their speech and actions. By eliminating tobacco products from their shelves, CVS is fully able to embody their mission of improving healthcare outcomes, thus taking one step closer to becoming a more authentic enterprise and a Champion Brand.
However, while authenticity is an important notion in the relationship between companies and society, it is just one of the elements in building a Champion Brand. By fully engaging across the Champion Brand’s Four A’s (Alignment, Authenticity, Attachment, Advocacy) CVS – and other companies – can develop a deeper relationship with its stakeholders and a more enduring corporate brand strength.