Last week, CVS announced that it would stop selling cigarettes in its stores. While the move will allegedly cost CVS billions of dollars in annual revenue, the company made the strategic decision to refocus its business in a direction it wanted to go. We’ll go on record here at The Game Changer to say that the decision was indeed a real game changer. Bravo to CVS.
This announcement has been well documented, and I think most of us would agree that the company has deservedly received its deluge of good PR since the news broke. But allow me to tell you why I think this decision was most encouraging and educational for us.
It’s rare these days that a company has the guts to make such a major revenue-related decision with its culture, mission, values and customers – and, generally, the common good – at the top of the priority list. In some of the coverage, CVS executives were cited saying that the decision was made because it kept the company in line with what it wants to be. Yes, you can re-read that sentence…it wasn’t a typo. I’m sure CVS had tons of pressure to continue the status quo, yet it gambled billions of dollars that doing the right thing would be good for business. And maybe most notably, it convinced enough of its major stakeholders that the right thing was the right business decision to allow the company to move forward. I sure would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that board room. What a remarkable statement CVS made about itself.
When a company acts in the manner CVS did last week, you can’t help but feel good and be encouraged. Maybe that’s a sad commentary on our society, because we don’t expect this kind of thing to happen often. Maybe it’s a big PR stunt, but I don’t think so given what I’ve read about it. Maybe it’s the kind of action that helps restore the public’s waning trust in American businesses, like I wrote about here last week. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign that what’s good for the public is good business. I can’t wait for this last part to be proven true, so others will follow in CVS’ footsteps.