With close to 10,000 stores all over the U.S. and over 200,000 employees, CVS has established itself as one of the leading pharmacy and retail chains in the country, popular for its highly affordable prices.
Given how quickly CVS has grown and become a household brand, you may have wondered – what factors have allowed CVS to thrive? Here is what I’ve found out about CVS’s competitive advantages!
CVS Competitive Advantages
1. A Plan to Win
The CEO of CVS, Larry Merlo, has described his ‘Plan to Win,’ outlining eight key areas that CVS focuses on in order to boost its business.
These include a ‘purpose’ and ‘promise’ to customers to help people achieve their best health and motivate the ‘people’ working for CVS through bonuses and incentives.
A focus on the ‘product’ sold by CVS keeps customers returning as they prioritize essential products for local stores to help consumers.
‘Place’ and ‘price’ are two further motivators outlined by Merlo, as CVS wishes to keep its retail items both easy to access and affordable.
The final two areas are ‘promotion’ and ‘performance’, which means that CVS is continually monitoring its statistics and building a results culture to enhance its brand.
On the whole, a strong focus on these eight steps allows CVS to continue to grow and expand from a solid base.
2. Iconic Branding
CVS is an instantly recognizable brand with its iconic red logo that has become known as one of the largest drugstores in the U.S. that sells a variety of products, including essential pharmaceutical goods.
The company has cultivated its branding so that customers know exactly what to expect in stores and that they will find reasonable prices for whatever they want to buy.
This emphasis on branding has made CVS one of the leading retailers of pharmaceutical products.
3. Good Locations
CVS is the largest drugstore chain in the U.S., with around 10,000 stores located all over the U.S. This makes CVS one of the most accessible stores for customers who want to purchase pharmacy goods.
Along with that, the CVS buildings themselves are also sized to accommodate a large number of goods, ranging anywhere from 8000 feet to 12,000 square feet.
This allows customers to locate everything they need within CVS stores, which negates the need for them to visit competitors.
4. A Variety Of Products
CVS thrives as a retailer due to its ability to offer simultaneous services in-store.
In addition to prescription drugs, the retailer is also able to offer customers other services such as over-the-counter drugs, greeting cards, photo services, as well as beauty and cosmetics products.
During the holiday season, CVS further enhances its collection to include holiday-specific goods that are in high demand during those days.
All of this means that customers can obtain a variety of products in one place.
5. Caring About Customers
CVS promotes itself as a health-conscious brand committed to ensuring the welfare of its customers.
Recently, CVS made the decision to no longer sell tobacco and cigarette products, despite this leading to a loss of $2 billion annually.
Focusing on the welfare and health of patrons has led to improved relationships of CVS with customers, employees, and their partners in the health industry.
Ultimately, this decision (among several others) establishes its reputation as a company that cares about its customers and their health.
6. Tackling Health Issues
Along with carefully choosing which products it supplies to benefit customers, CVS is also committed to working and combating other issues in healthcare by staying on top of potential healthcare threats.
For example, CVS is working towards solving issues such as kidney care, loneliness, and mental illness and working to close the poverty health gap through research and action.
These initiatives further strengthen its loyal customer base, with customers feeling proud of buying items from a company that produces so much positive value for society.
7. Health Innovation
As part of its innovative healthcare systems, CVS has also announced a healthcare process called HealthHUB.
HealthHUB includes health kiosks with services such as durable medical equipment and products for health issues such as diabetes.
CVS has piloted this technology in a number of locations, including Houston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, aiming to improve care for patients suffering chronic conditions.
Following the success of its pilot program for HealthHUB, CVS aims to expand and convert a further 1500 locations by the end of 2021.
In this way, constant expansion and innovation allow CVS to continue to support the customers it has while offering care facilities that will attract new consumers.
8. Partner Companies
CVS continues to succeed due to the strategic business mindset that allows it to merge and take over rival and beneficial companies.
The retail giant has acquired and partnered with several companies in order to keep providing quality service to customers.
For instance, in 2004, CVS acquired Eckerd Stores and Health Services, and in 2006 acquired MinuteClinics to provide healthcare services in its stores.
Additionally, CVS also acquired the health insurance company Aetna, which has boosted profits due to the growth of Medicare Advantage plans and has allowed it to begin schemes such as HealthHUB.
9. Defeating Competitors
CVS has a further competitive advantage as it continues to expand while other competitor companies have to close down stores.
For example, rival retailers Rite Aid and Walgreens Boots Alliance have had to close several stores following a loss in profits.
Meanwhile, CVS plans a steady stream of expansion of around 100 stores a year, admittedly less than previous years, but still very much positive.
CVS’s business plan and strategies are advised by its “Plan to Win,” which allows CVS to establish a strong foundation from which to continuously grow the chain of stores.
Following that, a huge number of locations in the U.S., a large variety of in-store goods, and a strong brand image have allowed CVS to attract and retain a huge and ever-growing customer base.
Additionally, other factors such as constantly innovating, taking part in socially beneficial initiatives, and acquiring useful companies have allowed CVS to stay ahead of its competitors.