Last year CVS put beauty front and center. The drug store chain made an investment in GlamSquad, opening four BeautyIRL stores featuring in-store beauty services. It also announced a conversation-starting plan, Beauty Mark, to stop the altering of beauty images by brands in the beauty aisle, as well as within its own social outreach and communications with consumers.
On Thursday, CVS executives revealed how far they’ve come with Beauty Mark at its Times Square location. While the goal is to be 100 percent compliant by 2020, already it seems a number of brands have stepped up to the plate. (To be Beauty Mark compliant all beauty imagery either features the CVS Beauty Mark watermark, highlighting it has not been materially altered, or the photo is marked “digitally altered.”) In fact, Maly Bernstein, Vice President Beauty and Personal Care at CVS, said about 70 percent of beauty images are already in adherence.
Walking the aisles, it was easy to see which brands are following CVS’ call, including JOAH, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Revlon, Burt’s Bees and Physician’s Formula.
The initiative to portray women as they naturally are stems from CVS’ belief that unattainable beauty images can dampen self-image.
“As a purpose-led health care company, as well as the second largest beauty retailer in the country, we want the millions of customers that visit CVS Pharmacy locations each day to see a more authentic and diverse representation of beauty,” said Kevin Hourican, resident of CVS Pharmacy. “We applaud the brand partners that truly embraced this initiative and helped us in taking significant steps forward in our effort to change an industry standard that has an impact on the health and self-esteem of our mutual customers.”
Taking the commitment even further, CVS instituted a contractual requirement for all of its beauty influencers to create and share only imagery that has not been digitally altered and does not use social filters—a big order for filter-obsessed posters.
To shed light on the issue, CVS culled an expert panel including Ayesha Curry, a CoverGirl model; Michelle Freyre, President of U.S. Beauty for Johnson & Johnson;Andrew Stanleick, Senior Vice President, North America for Coty Consumer Beauty; Dr. Rachel Rodgers, Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at Northeastern University and CVS’s Chief Marketing Officer, Norman de Greve. Katie Couric moderated the discussion, which focused on the importance of positive beauty representation, implications on the beauty industry and next steps in accelerating the issue.
CVS’ Norman de Greve kicked off the lively interaction, which identified things such as social media and YouTube as fostering unattainable ideals. “We decided to take a stand,” he said, explaining the genesis of Beauty Mark. He singled out how beautiful unaltered images look on the sales floor. “We don’t want to change brands, but we want to provide transparency. We want to make sure people are aware of [digital altering].”
Brands have been supportive, he said, helping push toward goals. In the future, CVS will do an audit to ensure brands are being truthful with their no alter commitment.
Michelle at J&J said the company’s portfolio of brands, like CVS, is purpose-driven and puts consumers first. “People are craving authenticity and transparency.” She added the cadre of celebrities used by J&J brands were excited to participate. And, J&J will spread the unaltered images to other retailers.
Norman added that’s what CVS hopes. “This isn’t just about us, but the whole industry.”
Andrew also said Coty was also enthused to partner with CVS, especially since that message is already carried out by efforts such as CoverGirl’s I Am What I Make Up campaign featuring six diverse models, including Ayesha. For her part, Ayesha said she had her kids with her on the shoot and wasn’t sure how confident she was at first. But seeing the large photos hanging in the store she said felt powerful and that the photos set a good tone for her daughters.
“I’m a young African-American woman and know a woman can open a magazine and see that, that didn’t exist when I was younger. I want my daughters to have images to look up to.”
Beyond the Beauty Mark report card, CVS showed off the ongoing new brands and trends it continues to add to its assortment. Sixty new items are rolling out including those from brands not always found at mass, such as Sun Bum and Bliss. “While the rest of the mass market might be down, we’re growing in beauty,” Maly said. She attributed CVS’ success to its on-trend selection and its purpose-driven philosophy. She said purpose-led companies’ stocks outperform the market.