CVS Takes Different Approach on Reusable Bags

Discussion
Oct 22, 2009

By George
Anderson

We were
taken by a comment in yesterday’s discussion on RetailWire about
the new Sears.com promotional program intended to grab book purchasers
from Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com. Doug Stephens, president
of Retail Prophet, suggested, “In an age where everything is being made
exponentially simpler, Sears blazes a trail to complexity.”

With Mr.
Stephens’ comment in mind, we wondered if CVS had perhaps ventured down
that same path with its new program for encouraging customers to shop
with reusable bags.

While many
retailers offer a few cents off for each bag shoppers bring with them
(Target, for example, announced this week it would give a five cents
credit for each reusable bag its guests use), CVS is giving shoppers
an Extra Care Buck coupon for $1 after they shop with the same cloth
bag four times. The chain is going to keep track of bag use by providing
shoppers with a Green Bag Tag card. The leaf-shaped card, which can be attached
to bags or knapsacks, is scanned every time a shopper makes a purchase.

To get a
tag, shoppers will pay 99 cents to the drugstore chain, which has said
it plans to donate funds to an unspecified environmental group(s).

“It’s
become part of the competitive landscape to demonstrate that it’s
part of your culture,” David Szymanski, marketing professor at Texas
A&M University, told USA Today. “Retailers
who want to connect with this generation have to go green.”

Discussion
Questions: What do you think of the CVS Green Bag Tag card program?
Will consumers choose to shop at CVS over other stores because it pays a
higher fee for making purchases with reusable bags?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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16 Comments on "CVS Takes Different Approach on Reusable Bags"


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Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Nice program for driving store trips. It’s a loyalty program with a green halo and I bet it works well.

What I like about it especially: there aren’t many retailers really rewarding the bag-reuse imperative. Sure, you can get a free reusable bag, or a charity-donation bag, but getting rewarded for behavior with the bag is smart.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Don’t look for a bump in sales or customers from the CVS bag program. This is a nice green program with a better reward than most but until a large percentage of shoppers start to bring bags back, this will remain a good PR effort.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Not all consumers are “green,” but a portion of the CVS shoppers certainly are. The frequent shoppers who are “green” are likely to embrace the idea–not for the buck, but for an idea that they embrace. CVS should be rewarded with added loyalty from this group.

It’s key to make certain that marketing and store operations tie into the strategy in a unified effort–but a sharp merchant like CVS knows that fact.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 6 months ago

This is a very different program than what we discussed yesterday with Sears. In the case of the CVS idea I would agree with Mr. Stephens comments yesterday that yes, this program seems a bit complex and tough for consumers to follow. I still stand behind my opinion yesterday that the Sears program was creative, easy to understand and should deliver positive results. Time will tell on both of these ideas.

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

It’s all about motivation. If CVS customers feel that $1 every four visits is a wonderful reward for using their cloth bag, they’ll do it. Shoppers may just feel that there is a pot of gold at the end of the cloth bag rainbow for which they are willing to make an effort.

Is it better motivation than a few cents off at the grocers? I don’t know. However, the expectation is that there are fewer visits to CVS than the local supermarket. Customers need a nudge as to which drug chain loves them best and CVS is sending that message, “We love you and we want you to do the right thing. So we’re helping you help yourself and the environment.”

It’s a feel-good promotion in my opinion. Feel good about CVS and feel good about myself.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 6 months ago

I have to agree with Doug on yesterday’s post and extend it to today’s post. Customers are already in a negative frame of mind. Why complicate things with tiered or multi-visit promotions? As with most promos that require a second or third visit, I think customers will quickly forget about what is going on unless CVS has a huge marketing campaign behind it. Even then, consumers will need constant reminders.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

First it was a key tag on my keychain. Those could be in the dozens if I chose all available. Now I have to have a trunk full of different bags depending on which store I visit in my car? Nope.

Jesse Rooney
Guest
Jesse Rooney
11 years 6 months ago

I really like this idea; it fits well with my values. I just wish there was a better way to implement it. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think “another loyalty card? Really?” How many of those things do I need? It makes me wonder if Americans aren’t cutting up credit cards to prevent overspending as much as to make room for all these loyalty cards.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I see this more as a “green” loyalty program than something that is going to drive trips. It might encourage someone to shop CVS rather than a competitor but not necessarily drive traffic to CVS from another channel, such as grocery. That being said, it does allow CVS to play in the green arena.

JoAnn Hines
Guest
JoAnn Hines
11 years 6 months ago

The whole “reusable” bag issue is murky at best. I get them with the best intentions yet they remain in the trunk of my car. It’s true that consumers do really want to eliminate or reduce the use of plastic bags. All one has to do is look at the side of the highway to see why.

The problem lies with ingrained shopping behavior. Most consumers shop by rote. It’s difficult enough to get them to take the time to make informed shopping decisions let alone engage them with a complex reusable tag program. With all the free giveaway bags, I can’t see consumer paying for a Green Bag Tag Card. They would be more successful if they could tie the campaign in with their existing customer loyalty card.

It’s a nice “feel good” thought but I seriously doubt it will drive a flurry of repeat consumers to their door.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
11 years 6 months ago

I would really like to see a program that is simpler, easier to manage, and far less complex to participate in. I “get it” that retailers are trying to find a way to do both something good for the ecology AND enhance customer loyalty. But…Come On! How about just making it simple, clean, and easy? Isn’t it enough to have integrity on the issue?

Sign up for a card (pay $.99 I mean!), get it punched four times, and then get a store $1 credit? Geez. I bet that program has tons and tons of impact. Not.

Plastic bags are horrible for the environment. Stop using them. Tell the consumer why you are stopping their use, make an effort to make an alternative easily available, and then move on. What would be the REAL cost to a supermarket chain to simply provide shoppers with recycle bags?

Sorry, not impressed with any of these efforts yet.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I don’t have strong feelings about CVS’s program. Perhaps it will work for them, as it seems aligned with their fairly complex, loyalty-oriented positioning.

I did want to mention one retailer whose bring-your-own-bag does a very nice job of fitting with their very simple concept/positioning: Trader Joe’s. When you bring your bags, you get a raffle ticket, and then they hold a drawing to give away free groceries. It’s simple and doesn’t require loyalty cards/tracking/etc. It’s also thrifty (I’m sure they give away less money than a per bag discount). And it is sort of homey, in keeping with TJ’s concept.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Target just started a similar program. The Target plan offers customers five cents off their bill for every reusable bag they use in lieu of a plastic bag. I think this is great for those who care, and doesn’t really penalize those who don’t. Bags are a definite expense for retailers. A big supply expense. This is something that should’ve been started years ago, before anyone cared about the environment. This is just one more way to show ROI by going green.

Kris Medford
Guest
Kris Medford
11 years 6 months ago

I agree with the dissenters. This program is overly complicated and not shopper-oriented. Asking shoppers to pay up-front to participate in an environmental program that additionally benefits the retailer is counter-intuitive and misguided.

Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

While CVS may appeal to its “greenest” customers with this initiative, it’s not going to significantly move the needle in terms of either driving new (i.e. incremental) business or likewise result in huge cost savings from the bags they currently use. Charging customers $1 isn’t going to help, unfortunately.

Loyalty has gotten way too cumbersome and these types of programs aren’t going to alleviate this problem for consumers.

Janet Schmidt
Guest
Janet Schmidt
11 years 6 months ago

As a holder of a CVS Extra Care card, I am skeptical of this $1 store credit. How long will it be good? Currently, the store credits they offer as a way of putting an item on sale are only good for a week. I usually don’t get back in within the week and their competitors often have the same deal except with an immediate discount. Plus that first $1 credit is just a refund of the purchase price of another bag of which I already have plenty.

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