CVS provides update to beauty transparency initiative

Chain has made 70 percent of images 'Beauty Mark' compliant

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CVS is updating its beauty aisles.
CVS is updating its beauty aisles. Credit: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

CVS is more than halfway to its goal of reaching transparency in its beauty ads—nearly two years ahead of schedule, the company said Thursday. The drugstore chain has made 70 percent of its beauty images compliant with its "CVS Beauty Mark" watermark, which promises a picture has not been airbrushed. Other images that have been altered are marked as such so consumers are aware.

"We are striving for transparency for the consumer—if it's altered, we want consumers to know," says Norman de Greve, senior VP and chief marketing officer of the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based retailer. He noted that new brands, such as Bliss and Crème Shoppe, have begun selling at CVS in recent months partially as a result of its beauty initiatives.

Exactly one year ago, CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, committed to new beauty standards as a way of adding authenticity to its marketing. The chain promised to provide Beauty Mark transparency to all images by the end of 2020. The initiative followed a similar measure enacted in France, which passed a law in 2017 that required brands to label digitally altered images.

Over the course of the next few weeks, CVS is rolling out beauty aisles showcasing the new imagery; it will unveil the first look at these store renovations at its Times Square, New York City location at an event on Thursday that will include the attendance of CoverGirl brand ambassador Ayesha Curry. CVS is also debuting a new social campaign where consumers are encouraged to upload their own unaltered photos under #beautyunaltered to social media for the chance to have them displayed on the brand's Times Square billboard. As part of the effort, CVS partnered with lifestyle influencers Sara and Erin Foster on a new Beauty Mark t-shirt; proceeds will support nonprofit Girls Inc.

CVS worked with Kaplow on PR, Digitas on social and Standard Black on beauty work.

De Greve says shopper feedback has been favorable.

"Consumers love it because they feel better about themselves," he says.

The chain, which acquired insurer Aetna in a $69 billion deal late last year, has also seen healthy sales. In its third-quarter, CVS reported a 2 percent rise in revenue over the year-earlier period to $47.3 billion; net income was $1.4 billion, compared with $1.3 billion in the year-earlier period.

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