Walgreen, Rite Aid, and CVS – the mission statement story

Walgreen’s mission statement: “To champion the health and well-being of every community in America.”

Rite Aid’s mission statement: “To improve the health and wellness of our communities through engaging experiences that provide our customers with the best products, services and advice to meet their unique needs.”

CVS’ mission statement: “To improve the lives of those we serve by making innovative and high-quality health and pharmacy services safe, affordable and easy to access.”

These are 3 of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States. Their mission statements and professed values are understandably fairly similar.

CVS, however, chose to stop selling cigarettes in 2014 to be consistent with their mission. They lost 2 Billion Dollars in the short term. Walgreens and Rite Aid, on the other hand, reluctantly increased the age limit to buy cigarettes to 21 after years of violations last year.

Values aren’t values until they cost us money.

A long PS: I intentionally decided against writing about the outcome of CVS’ decision for the business. There are many reasons to think it has paid off* – but, it is also hard to isolate the benefits from one decision.

However, studies have since found that cigarette consumption did decrease. So, it is safe to say that – regardless of the business outcome – it likely resulted in better outcomes for the communities around these stores.

Once again, values aren’t values until they cost us money.

(*More in The Long Game by Simon Sinek)