A few weeks ago, I went to Providence.
I had always wanted to go to Providence, mostly because of the great things people have told me about it. “It must be Providence,” I’ve heard friends say whenever something inexplicably good happens– and more than one person I know has even gone so far as to describe Providence as being ‘divine.’ That’s how I knew it was a special place- and that’s one big reason, I’ll confess, why I said yes when CVS asked me to come and visit its headquarters there.
I got to see a little bit of Providence while I was at the event (it is, indeed, divine) and I got to learn a lot about CVS. An entire day at the event was devoted to various CVS bigwigs telling a roomful of bloggers everything we ever wanted to know about CVS… and then some.
By the end of the trip, I felt like an expert on all things CVS-related. I’m like a CVS ubernerd now and it’s killing me at cocktail parties, as you can imagine. Fortunately for you, I’ve managed to condense my vast store of CVS knowledge down to the ten most interesting (and entertaining) things I learned while I was there.
1. CVS has its own Men in Black.
I guess I just figured that CVS had a few wholesale buyers on staff who found things customers would like, ordered them in bulk, and had them shipped to all the CVS stores, where employees just sort of threw them up on the shelves.
At one point during the event, we were taken to CVS’s super secret research center, where unsuspecting (though compensated, don’t worry) civilians are herded inside and seated at conference tables, then asked top-secret questions about their shopping preferences and habits. CVS analysts, who probably aren’t actually dressed in black suits BUT COULD BE, use these focus groups to decide how to stock their stores.
But wait. It gets way more X-Files than that.
The researchers told us that they also give shoppers special computerized glasses to wear during CVS shopping trips, which record where they look and what they look at while they’re shopping in the store. This helps researchers figure out where to put products and whether the current product placement strategies they’re using are working. I think these glasses could be useful for wives to research where their husbands are looking. Just saying.
And there’s more.
Inside CVS headquarters is an actual CVS ‘test store,’ which looks exactly like a real CVS, right down to the sliding glass doors. We didn’t get to go inside and look at everything but I sure did want to. I’ve always sort of wanted to have a fake store inside my own home, so that I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery all the time, so this was like a dream come true.
2. 1 in 3 Americans has a CVS card.
Did you know that? I didn’t. I find that shocking. Another fun fact? Only 15% of all those Americans actually scan their CVS card at checkout– which tells me that Americans are a lot dumber than I thought.
3. CVS has a new iPad app that will make your next CVS visit a whole lot cheaper.
The big news during this trip was the unveiling of MyWeeklyDeals, an app that gives you personalized deals on the items you buy most. Sign up for the app and enter your CVS Care Card number and the app will give you a personalized weekly ad, featuring the items on sale that you buy most right up at the top. Cool, right? This saves you from poring through the weekly circular for stuff you want to buy- With MyWeeklyDeals, everything you’re likely to be looking for is right there when you open the app.
4. CVS gives extreme couponers dealgasms.
Half of the bloggers invited to the CVS event were coupon bloggers, and let me tell you, these women (and uh, man) were on their game. I didn’t realize how competitive coupon blogging is, with bloggers racing to be first to post various coupons and deals on their blogs. During question and answer sessions, the coupon bloggers had all kinds of questions about CVS from their readers that never would have occurred to me to ask. And at times, it got heated, like when the coupon bloggers said that their readers were furious– FURIOUS!– that CVS took the actual weekly circulars offline when it launched MyWeeklyDeals. Perhaps fearing some sort of coupon blog reader revolt, CVS has now wisely returned the circulars to the website.
5. CVS has way more awesome products than I had previously realized.
CVS literally showered the bloggers at this event (okay, maybe not literally. Next year, CVS?) with all kinds of products, from glitter hair extensions and face creams and digital thermometers to sea salt caramels and shampoos and conditioners and a tall, white ‘mystery object’ pictured there in the middle that looks like– well, let’s just say it’s not what it looks like. Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s actually a lint roller. Gah.
Anyway. Stuff I loved:
-CVS’s essence of beauty bath and body products smell heavenly and come at a fraction of the price of what you’d find at the average bath and body store. I’d buy more in a heartbeat.
-CVS’s Maple Leaf Creme Cookies are to die for- They’re every bit as good as the Trader Joes version and in fact, my kids thought that’s exactly what they were. Ha! You were punk’d, kids! PUNK’D.
-I had no idea that CVS carries Hollywood Fashion Tape, which I swear by to hold low cut dresses in place, or make the neckline a little more modest.
-Did you know that Salma Hayek has a CVS line of makeup, hair, skin and body products? Oh yes she does, and it all looks very high end. No one will ever guess it came from CVS. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
6. CVS has a cool coupon machine inside that you would totally use if you knew it existed.
Do you have trouble keeping up with your CVS receipt coupons like we do? Not to worry! CVS has now equipped its price scanner machine in every store to spit out all your CVS rewards when you enter your CVS card number or phone number. Now you can figure out what your deals are BEFORE you shop, which is cool if you’re looking to potentially save a few extra bucks.
7. CVS has the most heavenly body and hand cream ever made.
I don’t think it’s at CVS just yet, but I got an advanced tube of CVS’s holiday edition Sugar Frosted Mint Body and Hand Cream and IT IS TO DIE FOR. I’m not even kidding. It smells like sugar frosted mint cookies fresh out of the oven. YUM. I made the mistake of letting my family smell it when I got home and now they’re all fighting me for it- and it’s just a little sample tube, people! It’s already half empty and it’s not even the holiday season! BACK OFF.
8. CVS runs Providence.
When you arrive at the Providence airport, one of the first things you see is a huge CVS sign that says “Welcome to Rhode Island! Our home is your home.” And they’re not kidding. CVS employs so many people in the Providence area that CVS focus groups pretty much have to consist of people who’ve come in from other cities- because a Providence focus group would be, like, contaminated. And you know what I mean by contaminated– As Charlton Heston himself said, “CVS is people! IT’S PEOPLE!”
Or something like that.
9. CVS’s new #WhatsYourDeal campaign would make Don Draper green with envy.
We got a sneak peek at CVS’s new ad campaign, appropriately titled “What’s Your Deal,” and I was secretly surprised to discover that… I liked it! Check it out:
So I have all these secret fantasies of careers I’d like to have in another life and one is to be a New York advertiser who comes up with catchy slogans and writes fantastic commercials. This is the kind of commercial that gets that fantasy going in my head. I may have missed the entire speech that followed this commercial because I was imagining myself drinking copious amounts of bourbon and writing great ad copy, but hey. A good commercial will do that to you.
10. CVS treats bloggers right.
Another reason that I went to Providence was that CVS sponsored me to attend Mom 2.0 earlier this year, and working with them was a really fantastic experience. This trip was no different. In addition to the Big Day of Learning Everything There Is to Know About CVS, we went to fabulous restaurants and had plenty of time to catch up with friends– which was great, because I got to spend significant time with some of my favorite blogging people. Yay. And in addition to all those products we were given (which they helpfully shipped home so that we wouldn’t have to pay major overweight baggage fees), CVS also sent us each an iPad before the trip, loaded with the latest CVS app. I am now my kids’ hero. Thank you for that, CVS.
And there you have it. 10 shocking CVS facts that will probably totally change your life. It’s the least I can do for you.
Although CVS paid my expenses on this trip, I was not paid (or asked) to write this post.
Header image via HattiesburgMemory/Flickr