CVS is a household name, with many people instantly associating the brand with the hugely successful chain of pharmacies. What some people may not realize is that the brand actually began as a chain of convenience stores before evolving into the major healthcare player it is today.
The brand has had an interesting history, including several name changes and regular adaptations that have allowed it to continue to perform in a competitive market. We take a look at the history of CVS to better understand the origins of the brand and why a name can play such an essential role in a company’s success.
The Beginning of CVS
The first Consumer Value Store was opened in 1963 in Lowell, Massachusetts by founders Sidney and Stanley Goldstein (two brothers) and their business partner, Ralph Hoagland. This initial store was not a pharmacy, but a convenience store stocking a range of beauty and health products.
Even within the first year, Consumer Value Stores experienced significant success. The performance of the initial store allowed for rapid growth, and the brand quickly expanded to a 17-store chain. This led to an investment in marketing in branding that saw the birth of the CVS brand. The founders developed the first CVS logo which highlighted CVS as a title and listed Consumer Value Stores below. With this banner placed on all stores, it wasn’t long before the chain simply became known as CVS.
In 1967, CVS continued on its path of expansion with the opening of several new stores and the introduction of pharmacy departments at a number of sites.
The Evolution of CVS
The CVS brand is acquired by Melville Corporation in 1969 and the chain consists of 100 stores by the following year. The strength of the CVS name continues to solidify and consumers learn to tell the difference between a standard Consumer Value Store (CVS) and a Consumer Value Store plus Pharmacy (CVS/Pharmacy), a naming technique that is still present in today’s stores.
The CVS brand is nearly doubled with the acquisition of 84 Clinton drug stores in 1972, and its size and reach is further expanded in 1977 with the purchase of 36 Mack Drug chain stores. CVS celebrates its 25th birthday in 1988 with approximately $1.6 billion in sales and a chain of almost 750 stotes.
The 1990s only see further growth and expansion for CVS. The brand opens more stores, acquires Presciption Health Services, and launches a new pharmacy benefit management company, PharmaCare.
In 1996, Melville Corporation is restructured and CVS becomes its own company, entering the New York Stock Exchange with the CVS sticker. The brand embraces the internet age with the launch of the first online pharmacy in the USA in 1999.
How the CVS Brand was able to Expand
CVS merges with Caremark, a pharmacy benefit management company, in 2007, and becomes CVS Caremark Corporation. By 2014, the company has become CVS Health which better reflects the expansion of the company during this time. It has now become, and remains to this day, a diverse health brand that has a number of subsidiaries under the one umbrella. This includes the original CVS Pharmacy, the acquired CVS Caremark, CVS Specialty, and Minute Clinic.
Despite making several changes over the years (moving from CVS Corporation to CVS Caremark and finally CVS Healthcare), the constant inclusion of CVS in each company’s name allowed the brand to retain its strength. It was able to hold onto the perception of experience and reliability obtained through its long-running operations, while also demonstrating that the brand could adapt with the times and remain relevant.
Regardless of the changes, CVS remained a constant brand in people’s lives. Interestingly, the interpretation of the name seems to have evolved alongside the evolution of the company. Tom Ryan, CVS’ CEO between 1998 and 2011, made a comment that the CVS name represented a commitment to Convenience, Value, and Service. Whether you choose to think of CVS as an acronym for its traditional name or the alternative benchmarks, there’s no denying that the name itself has allowed the company to experience an incomparable level of success in the health industry.
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp–transforming the way names are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.”