Inside This Issue - Opinion
Cosby looks to be good fit at CVS/pharmacy
January 2nd, 2012
Mark Cosby made his first public appearance as CVS/pharmacy president last month during CVS Caremark’s 2011 conference for investors and financial analysts. For anyone who may have had doubts about the wisdom of recruiting a department store executive to a run a drug chain, his performance was reassuring.
First and foremost, Cosby, who prior to joining CVS three months ago was in charge of retail operations at Macy’s, made it clear he fully understands that pharmacy defines the chain and is the central component around which everything else revolves.
Speaking before an audience at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City and on the Internet, his remarks were completely in sync with the theme of the day — reinventing pharmacy for better shareholder value.
Cosby devoted about half his 30-minute presentation to pharmacy, effectively recapping the drug chain’s considerable strengths in the field and outlining plans to build upon them. He said the retailer intends to capitalize on opportunities in a rapidly changing health care landscape by leveraging the boom in generic medications, augmenting the Maintenance Choice and Pharmacy Advisor programs, and instituting a proactive approach to service.
CVS/pharmacy will work to increase its share of the prescription drug market — which he said has grown from 13.6% in 2004 to an estimated 19.4% in 2011 — by drawing on two important resources. It will develop synergies with the company’s Caremark pharmacy benefits management business to enhance patient access, improve the quality of care and reduce costs, even as it benefits from the highly motivated group of professionals that staff its stores. Cosby noted that surveys show CVS pharmacists are four times as likely to feel they are an important part of the enterprise as the norm in a retail setting.
The drug chain’s new president was equally good discussing the front end, an area more closely aligned with his previous experience. By utilizing the unique customer insights afforded by its ExtraCare loyalty program, he said, CVS/pharmacy will continue to set itself apart in the marketplace by segmenting stores to better serve the needs of consumers in a given area, targeting investments to its best customers, and building its portfolio of private label and exclusive brands.
An especially successful example of the last tactic that he cited is the Nuance Salma Hayek beauty care line. Introduced at CVS in August, it has become the most successful store brand launch in recent history, according to Cosby.
Like the other CVS Caremark executives who made presentations, Cosby spoke from a prepared text. He was, if anything, more impressive during the question-and-answer session, when he handled the queries directed at him knowledgeably and effectively.
Based on his performance last month, it looks like Cosby is a good fit for CVS.