CVS Quits Tobacco

CVS Caremark Corporate:

On February 5, your company made an unprecedented move by announcing that as of October 1, 2014, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains will stop selling cigarettes in all CVS stores nationwide. The announcement sparked a national conversation which resulted in major buzz across U.S. media outlets, but especially in the world of social media ushering in waves of both positive and negative public commentary.


From this event, I have monitored and analyzed a sample collection of 200 Twitter posts from CVS Caremark’s conversational threads on the social media channel, Twitter. To measure the conversation, I examined the hashtag #CVSQuits. The Twitter activity on the hashtag was explored from February 5 to February 12, 2014. The examination of a week’s worth of Twitter data established and created a well-rounded representation and interpretation of the overall reaction from the Twitter social community. More importantly, through a content analysis methodology of #CVSQuits, I’m able to provide a detailed analyze of trends in organic keywords that resonate toward the CVS Caremark’s announcement.

Graph A

Graph A

The findings illustrate that there is an overwhelming positive sentiment with your company’s decision to stop selling cigarettes. The data conveys that a total of 78% of the Twitter commentary applauded your company’s efforts to align CVS’ corporate social responsibility with the organization’s mission. However, as displayed in Graph A, 22% of the commentary data criticized your efforts, due to the fact your retail drugstore will continue to sell products that are also deemed detrimental to public health such as: junk food and alcoholic beverages.


Graph B

Graph B

When examining the organic, community-driven keywords mentions from the data collected, in Graph B, the results yielded an understanding of where and how the future evolution of the conversational thread #CVSQuits will lead to. With the keyword “Health” at 24% can be interpreted as the company is viewed by the Twitter audience as an influencer in the public health space that is transforming the vision of a retail drugstore into a national health-care organization. Moreover, the keyword “Health” further shows that your company is doing good for the people by preventing diseases and cancers associated with cigarettes by promoting health through a company-wide organized decision. Other keywords, Tobacco and cigarettes tied in at 12% illustrates that CVS is a brand that is taking action and wants to be a thought leader in this conversation. Next, the keywords “Walgreens” at 17% and “drugstore” at 8% captured an interesting response to the #CVSQuits thread. The findings suggest that your company has created powerful brand recognition amongst its publics. Thus, competitor retail drugstores such as Walgreens and Duane Reade are feeling pressure to step up public health efforts and follow CVS Caremark’s lead by not selling cigarettes. j

With strong visual content, proactive and real-time two-way communication (sent replies and acknowledgement to social commentary), robust community management, informative and timely factoids/infographics that are associated with how and why cigarettes are bad, and paid marketing Twitter promotional efforts, your community management of #CVSQuits is a model example of monitoring and managing the social media platform Twitter. Through the research conducted, I have developed two main recommendations that can assist in further taking your conversational efforts for #CVSQuits to the next level on Twitter.

  1. Increase monitoring efforts: Even though your organization has replied to the Twitter commentary with detailed information about why CVS will continuing to sell junk food and alcohol products, the conversation will still need to be heavily monitored. Lines are blurred as your company moves into the public health space and regarded as a thought leader in the new wave of a health-care drugstore. Managing the message of #CVSQuits can translate into a positive impact in measuring the company’s bottom-line revenue and success with the public.


2.  Keep the narrative of #CVSQuits going: As other rival retail drugstores begin to evaluate its selling of cigarettes and take the same approach, it becomes important to continue to infuse the CVS Caremark story in the overall discourse and expand the CVS narrative. CVS must continue to be the thought leader and key influencer in the retail drugstore industry for changing how public health is regard. Also, you must keep personifying the brand of CVS in a different way that resonates and garners the highest engagement with the Twitter community.

photo 3

I look forward to your company’s thoughts and insights on my analysis of #CVSQuits.

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