CVS Cigarette Ban

Ted MarzilliCEO YouGov Direct
February 13, 2014, 12:28 PM GMT+0

Will CVS’s decision to not carry cigarettes be enough to challenge Walgreen’s position as the best-perceived national drugstore chain?

Since the news broke on February 5th, CVS US consumer perception and word of mouth metrics have jumped to their highest levels in more than 13 months, with CVS exceeding the incumbent front-runner, Walgreen’s, on both metrics.

Among national drugstore chains, Walgreen’s has been the constant consumer perception leader, even debuting last month on YouGov BrandIndex’s top 10 ranking of the best-perceived brands of 2013. Rite Aid has lagged behind the other two, with less than half the perception levels of Walgreen’s.

With CVS now taking the perception lead, is the new policy enough to make them hold on to it? Both Walgreen’s and Rite Aid also saw their consumer perception and word of mouth levels inch up after the announcement, which might be the affect of smokers switching their drug store allegiances.

CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen’s were measured with two YouGov BrandIndex’s metrics: Buzz, which asks respondents "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"; and Word Of Mouth, which asks respondents, “"Which of the following brands have you talked about with friends and family in the past two weeks (whether in person, online or through social media)?"

The Buzz score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

Word Of Mouth score ranges from 0% to 100%.

The day before the CVS cigarette announcement, the chain’s Buzz score was 19. CVS passed Walgreen’s on February 7th, two days after the news broke, and continuing to its current score of 28. However, both Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid, possibly boosted by smokers, made small positive parallel moves of their own: Walgreen’s rose two points from 23 to 25 after the announcement, while Rite Aid went from 5 to 9.

Word of Mouth metrics reflected the same heightened dynamics: CVS went from 18% on the day before the announcement up to 28% on February 9th, and down a notch to its present 27%. And like Buzz score, both Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid had small jumps in the news aftermath with Word of Mouth: Walgreen’s from 21% to 23% and Rite-Aid from 6% to 7%.

Buzz: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen's

Buzz: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen's

WOM: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen's

WOM: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen's