CVS has been unable to sustain the consumer perception heights it reached both times it made key tobacco product removal announcements in 2014, allowing rival Walgreen’s to retake the lead position , according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily brand consumer perception research service.
CVS’ dual 2014 tobacco announcements – first in February announcing its plans and then September 3rd when it enacted them – each brought brief jumps in perception numbers. When CVS actually removed the products one year ago, its consumer perception levels actually surpassed Walgreen’s for a two month period.
However, by the early part of this year, Walgreens moved back ahead of CVS in perception levels, where they have primarily dominated for at least the past two and a half years.
In YouGov BrandIndex’s most recent rankings of the best perceived brands of the first half of 2015, Walgreen’s came in at #12 while CVS was #22 (out of 1,400+ possible brands).
CVS and Walgreen’s were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, 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?"
A Buzz score can range of -100 to 100 with a zero score equaling a neutral position.
Examining how the timing and length of CVS’ announcements played out with consumers and Walgreens, their early February 2014 message about tobacco products brought them from a 17 Buzz score to a 25, putting them on par with Walgreens. Two months later, CVS was back to a 17 score and then proceeded to drop to 14 one month after that.
When CVS finally pulled the tobacco products off the shelves in September 2014, the move corresponded with another temporary boost, from 14 to the same 25 score peak again, this time exceeding Walgreen’s 21 score at the time.However, a little more than two months later, CVS was back below Walgreen’s score, going on a slow trajectory down to its normal levels at the 13 – 14 mark. Walgreen’s current Buzz score, meanwhile, is 20.