How CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens Maintained High Consumer Trust in 2022

Retail’s Most Trusted Brands in 2022 all represent pandemic success stories because of their ability to capture disrupted consumer behaviors and new buying habits. CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, the #1 and #3 U.S. retail brands on Morning Consult’s 2022 Most Trusted Brands list, respectively, have had the most direct impact as pharmaceutical and medical service providers during a health crisis.

Each brand maintained high levels of trust long before “coronavirus” entered the lexicon, as both drugstore chains are frequent shopping destinations for many consumers. Their extensive physical networks have helped them play an instrumental role in the distribution of vaccines, but the rollout of the vaccine has led to some trust turbulence for both brands given the highly politicized environment surrounding the pandemic.

Key vaccine milestones have had disparate impacts across demographics. Both drugstore brands lost trust with baby boomers as the vaccine rolled out, while CVS gained ground with Gen Z. Basically, trust with Gen X and millennials — those most likely to ‘having children aged 12 to 15 – did not diminish after COVID-19 vaccines were approved for this age group. Trust in each brand has changed little since the final stages of the vaccine: they neither gain nor lose ground in any substantial way.

As health-centric retailers, CVS and Walgreens benefit from the halo effect of increased consumer confidence in healthcare relative to their retail peers. Health care is the third most trusted sector by consumers, well ahead of retail. In the case of CVS and Walgreens, their healthcare service offerings have helped them stand out from retailers.

Retail in general enjoys greater trust among baby boomers than other generations: 71% of this older cohort trust retailers “a lot” or “a little”, compared to only 48% of adults in Generation Z. Retaining the trust of baby boomers means addressing issues such as offering high quality products and value for money. With fewer strong trust differentiators, Gen Z is harder to please, but providing good customer service and a commitment to improving the environment has an outsized impact on Gen Z trust.

Going forward, CVS and Walgreens will continue to invest in in-store clinics providing healthcare services, expanding their roles as healthcare companies in addition to retailers. Given that healthcare also experiences greater customer loyalty than the retail sector, these investments should pay off. Yet these brands cannot rest on their laurels and will need to continue to innovate in service and sustainability to remain relevant to young shoppers.

Download the 2022 Most Trusted Brands Reports here.
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