What's in a name change? The conversion of Peoples Drug to CVS

Mark G. Kolligian

In 1990 CVS (at the time an 800 store drug chain located primarily in New England) acquired Peoples Drug, a chain of 400+ drug stores in the Washington, DC area.

In the subsequent three years CVS renovated every store in the Peoples chain. With the completion of this effort, a major eight-week promotional event was launched that was referred to internally as the Peoples' Celebration. These store renovations and an aggressive attempt to lift service levels produced only moderate sales results throughout the remainder of 1993.

In addition to lukewarm sales, major inefficiencies related to the operation and marketing of two separate names, CVS and Peoples Drug, were hindering profitability. However, changing the name was a very risky proposition, primarily because Peoples Drug was a 90-year-old 'institution' in the DC area - quite literally a household name. Plus, the overabundance of, and distaste for, meaningless acronyms among consumers didn't make matters any better.