Monday, March 07, 2011


There is no loud “hit-you-in-the-face” slogan. But CVS, a national pharmacy chain, according to CBS-TV’s show “Sunday Morning,” has made its message clear by changing many of its stores to respond to the aging Baby Boomer generation.

This time the communications channel is actions — not words. The question is how those actions have transformed the message. While it is common to think of communications in terms of words, an enlightened interpretation is that communications is at the core of everything: visual, verbal, spatial, print, tone or anything else someone perceives. But no one at CVS created signage for Baby Boomers that says: “We are reshaping our stores for the vital generation!” That would certainly not appeal to the ego of the target, who is expecting that old age could be better, according to Professor Joseph Coughlin, head of MIT’s Age Lab. He says that “technology has helped us live longer; now we want to live better.”

So what are these subtle actions? CVS has made the shelves lower, making it easier to reach products. The signage is larger, making the printed word on the shelves easier to read. The floors are carpeted; thus, it is easier to walk without worrying about slippage. Carpets also make it quieter, so it is easier to hear salespeople and each other. The lighting is softer. The store is even providing magnifying glasses, for help in reading labels, if needed.

There is nothing unique about understanding the needs of the customer base and responding to it. Corporations in droves are going to capitalize on what “Sunday Morning” says is a $3.4 trillion market. “The first baby boomers are turning 65 this year, and a projected 72 million — about one fifth of the U.S. population — will be that age or older by 2030.” Just keep your eye on how it is done … the words used and the actions taken; for example, when a company, like GE , calls appliances that are easier to reach, “universal design.”

It is all about engagement.

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Anonymous Ira Levy said...

CVS is the only drug chain in my town of Santa Barbara. However, I haven't noticed any of the changes indicated. Had they publicized what they have been doing for "senior citizens", I might have looked for those improvements and appreciated them. I don't know whether I'm typical, but their changes have been largely wasted on me.

Monday, March 07, 2011 6:44:00 PM  

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