In early April at Kantar Retail’s Health and Wellness Conference, we explained why it’s time to abandon the reactive sick care approach to health in favor of proactive self-care. The tide is shifting from occasion-based, symptom-oriented treatment toward an ongoing, cause-oriented lifestyle commitment. CVS Health showcased this particular retailization of health and wellness on Wednesday, when they unveiled their enhanced store experience at an event at The Garage in New York City. The new design signals a move to transform their corporate branding from a sick care destination to more of a wellness and prevention center.

According to CVS Health, these changes represent the “next evolution of the customer experience.” Helena Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy and EVP CVS Health explains, “Pharmacy is the heart of our business and our focus on providing care to patients and customers defines everything we do in our stores. Our new retail offerings leverage our deep expertise in health to enhance our customers’ shopping experience. The same guiding principles that led to the removal of tobacco from our stores extend to our commitment to deliver the most innovative health and beauty solutions.”

Here’s how the new design brings the self-care shift to life:

  1. It’s based on a holistic approach to health
    Just as self-care represents a comprehensive mind-body approach to health, the new design focuses on the total store rather than one category or department. Innovations are in place in beauty, vitamins/OTC, food, and even household products. The better-for-you food and beauty assortments have been expanded, and include the introduction of new specialty naturals brands.  Shelf tags that highlight better-for-you options will be carried over into other categories to help signal healthy, natural, and free-from products across the aisles.

  2. It makes shopping easy
    One key element of the new design is “Making ‘Better’ Easier,” and in order to do so CVS is upping its standards. The retailer announced that it will remove three key chemicals from its private label beauty products by 2019: parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde donors. New standards are being developed for vitamins and supplements, and by 2019 third-party testing of ingredients (as well as additional product tested of specific ingredients) will be required. These developments are on the heels of CVS’ February announcement that artificial trans fats will be removed from its store brand food products—ahead of the FDA’s June 2018 deadline. These new standards help to give back shoppers some of their mental energy, in that they can trust that CVS products are free from harmful ingredients. In addition to these product-specific developments, the new design will feature “Discovery Zones” that showcase key health categories and solutions.

  3. It uses education to engage
    The new front-end remodels that have already been implemented are abundant with signage and education across categories, and the next phase of the new design will expand this initiative. In-store signage communicates and clarifies product uses, ingredients, and benefits—which removes a lot of the mystery surrounding natural, less-mainstream products or ingredients. Approaching self-care can be intimidating in that it is more abstract than treating concrete symptoms, and this informational signage helps guide shoppers in their self-care regimens.

  4. It puts shoppers in control
    Each of these new design innovations combine to give the shopper a sense of control over her health and wellness—to empower her in self-care. Through this enhanced customer experience, CVS provides shoppers with the tools to generate informed decisions, and also makes a holistic approach to health more accessible to the mainstream. All of this reinforces the message that CVS is a trusted partner in health and wellness.

Over the course of the year, new design changes will be rolled out in 70 stores, with plans to expand to design to hundreds more in 2018. This reimagined CVS store is clean, innovative, and a move in the right direction in terms of shoppers’ health needs and wants. 

Kantar Retail POV

Here are some recommendations on how to partner with CVS Health in these innovative stores:

  • Drive traffic. Target loyalty in fresh, local, organic, natural and healthy via CVS ExtraCare and provide personalized offers focused on preventive self-care OTC solutions.
  • Test and learn. Partner with CVS Health to enact innovative mobile marketing solutions that redefine convenience via third-party services (think Uber, Lyft)  to/ from home.
  • Help educate and inform. Leverage gamification engagement tools to help shoppers better understand the intrinsic benefits associated with an ongoing wellness lifestyles versus singular health occurrences.


For more CVS Health retail insights please reach out to Brian Owens at or Kate Senzamici at

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