Setting a New Beauty Standard: How CVS Continues to Stand Out in the Market


Walk into any beauty store or pharmacy and immediately your eye is drawn to the perfect (read: airbrushed) images of models promoting the newest foundation or lipstick. These unrealistic and unhealthy ads are impossible to miss and often set unattainable standards to young, impressionable customers. However, CVS is looking to change the way it advertises and promotes cosmetics. This month the company is beginning a nationwide overhaul of the ubiquitous airbrushed images found in its beauty aisles, website and social media channels.

By the end of 2020, CVS aims to mark all images with a “beauty mark” stamp to show they have not been digitally altered enabling customers to distinguish between untouched and retouched images. While other clothing companies such as Aerie and ASOS have run well-publicized campaigns promoting their use of real, unretouched photos, the sheer scale of CVS’s reach–five million customers daily–along with the rise of the #MeToo movement, makes this decision a significant step toward organic images of beauty.

As we discussed on our blog previously (when the pharmacy cut its ties with tobacco) CVS is sending a clear message to its customers regarding where it stands when it comes to healthy living. By promoting health and wellness and realistic beauty standards CVS is differentiating itself from its direct competitors (Walgreens, RiteAid) and carving a larger foothold for themselves in the cosmetics industry.

This is a unique sociocultural moment when issues affecting women are coming to the forefront, from workplace harassment, to the gender pay gap, to underrepresentation of women in tech. These societal shifts are encouraging brands to not only accurately represent, but to celebrate women’s beauty, intelligence and influence. With more companies taking notice of these business practices, this is just the beginning of an avalanche of positive change throughout the beauty industry, and indicative of a larger movement toward overall social awareness.

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