Q&A: CVS Health's VP of Store Brands on Live Better's new look

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Q&A: CVS Health's VP of Store Brands on Live Better's new look

By David Salazar - 06/19/2020

CVS Pharmacy recently revamped and expanded its Live Better by CVS Health store brand. Spanning the health-and-wellness spectrum from sun care to oral care and even baby care, the brand's retooling was aimed at making on-trend products available at competitive prices. Store Brands caught up with Brenda Lord, CVS Health vice president of store brands, to talk about what went into building the brand and the retailer's overall approach to store brands. 

Brenda Lord

Store Brands: A trend we've been covering is the fact that own brands are no longer just copycat products, and Live Better by CVS Health's latest additions are kind of a testament to that. Talk about how you approach meeting consumer demands with bringing something fresh to the table.
Brenda Lord: 
A common misconception is that our store brands are just “compare-to” products. On the contrary, we offer high-quality products at a great value. Our commitment to quality, safety and trust and our customer obsession really comes to life in our exclusive brands, where we work to innovate and lead with purpose.

With all our exclusive brands, we challenge everyone involved in the process to think big when it comes to improving and enhancing our products and product lines. We constantly test and re-evaluate quality standards, striving to exceed customers’ expectations for the products themselves. We take great care in the packaging and design to ensure we are always making it easy for customers. We work relentlessly at listening to customer insight, uncovering unmet needs and changing behaviors to offer items with purposeful ingredients that provide specific consumer benefits.

SB: And how does this philosophy extend into Live Better.
BL: In creating Live Better, we recognized that a gap exists for high-quality health care and self-care products that make the newest wellness trends and ingredients more accessible — and affordable — for our customers. Live Better is also among the most comprehensive wellness lines out there that features trendy and preferred ingredients, offering a wide variety of items and category offerings unlike many other brands. We also know that customers are asking smart questions about the products they buy and/or put in their bodies, which is what led us to unveil the "Tested to be Trusted" program in 2019, requiring third-party testing of all brands of vitamins and supplements to be sold in-store or online.

With that in mind, we continue to challenge ourselves and our suppliers to make strides with sustainability, in both ingredient sourcing and in our manufacturing processes. This enables us to deliver good value with prices that are equal to – or in many cases lower – than competing brands.

SB: Many of these products are very much driven by a backstory. Why was that an important element for this rollout and why is sustainability and transparency around ingredients, supply chain, etc. something private brand makers should pay attention to?
BL: 
As a company dedicated to improving people’s lives through innovative and high-quality health and pharmacy services, we are continuously working to reduce our environmental and climate-related impact across all areas of business. This includes purposefully choosing the raw materials in our products and packaging, as well as seeking feasible alternatives for materials of concern in the development of our products.

We are working with our manufacturer partners to push the envelope for Live Better and all of our store brand product lines to explore additional steps we can take towards achieving even more sustainable packaging goals in the future.
—Brenda Lord, CVS Health vice president of store brands

All of the packaging with the Live Better line is at least 80% recyclable, with the majority simply requiring consumers to remove specific elements to allow for easy recycling. For instance, with some vitamin bottles, the customer may need to discard a small foil seal or cotton, but the bottles and caps themselves are fully recyclable. Our consumer research shows that this level of sustainability is not only something our customers are comfortable with, but it exceeds their expectations. We are working with our manufacturer partners to push the envelope for Live Better and all of our store brand product lines to explore additional steps we can take towards achieving even more sustainable packaging goals in the future. 

We wanted to make our customers feel good about this new brand, so with many of our products, we lifted the veil on how our ingredients are sourced to give our customers a behind-the-scenes peek at how some are made, demonstrating the Live Better brand’s commitment to transparency and sustainability.

SB: What were some of the trends you were seeing in these and other categories that felt like an opportunity for Live Better by CVS Health?
BL: 
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and our team is responsible for creating innovative products and product lines that customers can’t get anywhere else. We do this by relentlessly looking at customer insights and identifying trends and opportunities in the market for innovations our customers need. Based on customer feedback and current trends, we found that our customers were looking for more alternatives in healthcare, requesting transparency from the brands they love, and aspiring to make a positive impact on the planet. We listened and sought to fulfill those expectations with Live Better by CVS Health by: 

  • Ensuring all packaging is at least 80% recyclable;
  • Featuring popular trending and emerging ingredients such as elderberry, ashwagandha, turmeric, kelp, maca, ginseng and charcoal and including the rich backstories of how some of the products were sourced and sustainably manufactured, either on the packaging or online;
  • Pursuing products and ingredients that are USDA certified organic, non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, cruelty-free or vegan where possible;
  • Requiring all options to adhere to CVS Pharmacy’s Tested to Be Trusted standards requiring third-party testing of all brands of vitamins and supplements in order to be sold in-store and online; and
  • Including a variety of product formats including concentrate drops, drink packets, loose powders and gummies for those who want to mix or blend products into food and beverages, or are looking for alternatives to traditional pills.