CVS has moved to officially eliminate trans-fat products and tanning oil from its shelves and place junk food in the back of its stores, while Walgreens prefers to leave food choices up to customers.
CVS eliminated tobacco products from its shelves and changed its name to CVS Health Corp. in 2014, indicating a shift in the store’s philosophy as it made an effort to stand out by providing healthier options. Now the pharmacy chain is banning the sale of low-protection sunscreen and artificial trans-fat foods.
“We make a distinction between indulgent products and damaging products,” said Judy Sansone, CVS’s chief merchant. “We are giving more healthy-choice options and making sure the customer can find them.”
In contrast, Walgreens offers both healthy and unhealthy options to its shoppers to ensure that consumers will not be limited in what they can purchase. Walgreens continues to sell cigarettes but also stocks its shelves with E-cigarettes, nicotine gum, and lozenges. Unlike CVS, Walgreens is keeping its candy and chips at the front of the store, but has added fruits and vegetables to the selection it offers. The store also gives shoppers exercise and health points that can be used for purchase, rewarding customers who choose to be healthy.
Making stores healthier is risky, given that some customers will like the changes and some will not, according to CEO of marketing firm rDialogue Phil Rubin. “A big part of visiting a drugstore is habit, and you can risk alienating customers if you change things up and disrupt that habit,” he said.
Walgreens co-operating chief Alex Gourlay thinks that it’s possible to give customers a full range of choices while also encouraging them to be healthy, according to the Wall Street Journal. He says the answer lies in offering customers a slew of products, rewarding them for positive choices, and then letting them make their own decisions.
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