CVS to cutback on candy and soda sales in favor of healthier items

Dive Brief:

  • CVS Health said it will devote more floor space to nutritious food and health products, reducing junk food and soda in the process, according to USA Today. The nation’s largest drugstore chain announced it would implement the new format at hundreds of locations by the end of 2018. 
  • Among the new products that will be added are nutritious food bars, natural supplements and makeup without harmful chemicals. CVS also is expanding its healthier food options within its own Gold Emblem Abound brand, Fortune said.
  • "The consumer said, 'Wow you don't sell tobacco, why don't you have healthier food?" Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy, tells Fortune at a presentation of the new store look in Manhattan. "The consumer is always ahead of us, pushing on that path to really being a healthcare company."

Dive Insight:

In an effort to appeal to a healthier consumer mindset, CVS is introducing more floor space to nutritious food and health products. The move comes approximately three years after the chain stopped selling tobacco products, a decision that garnered goodwill from shoppers but hurt sales of general merchandise in its stores. CVS is looking for a way to juice sales, and doubling down on its health initiative to further target customers looking to eat better is one way to do that.

According to Fortune, CVS put more health food near cash registers in 2015, but the changes came at less than half of its stores. While candy may be less prominent at CVS, it isn't going away. CVS would be wise to keep a prominent display of candy bars and other junk food to cater to the on-the-go shopper and consumer who has the urge to indulge. It's also a good way to snag the impulse buyer stopping at CVS for other products, but who can't resist grabbing a sweet snack before checkout.

Consumers still love sugar. Chocolate and non-chocolate sales combined grew 2% in 2016. Hostess has grown sales by leveraging its iconic yellow, cream filled snack to make ice cream, cappuccino and deep-fried Twinkies. Other sweets makers have reported similar success. While 75% of consumers answered an NPR survey last year saying they were eating wholesome food, and similar studies have found almost equal results, people still love to have a tasty treat now and then. As CVS has shown, a little bit of healthy and the occasional indulgence appears to be a sweet compromise.

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Grocery Ingredients Corporate