In 2021, it's one thing when a brand promises transparency and inclusivity and another when they actually back it up. CVS knows this very well. In 2018 the brand introduced its Beauty Mark initiative, committing to no-Photoshop guidelines for its internal beauty imagery in stores, marketing, and its website. The pledge made it the first mass retailer (at the time) to adhere to such standards. Part of the CVS Beauty Mark initiative requires brands sold at the retailer to disclose whether or not imagery has been digitally altered.
The Beauty Mark project wasn't a passing stance. Since its announcement in 2018, CVS has continued to feature unaltered branding in its online and in-store campaigns and can now proudly announce that it has reached full compliancy for beauty imagery produced by and for CVS Pharmacy. Major brands like Olay, Flower Beauty, and COVERGIRL have aligned with the CVS mission to feature unedited imagery. Flower Beauty founder Drew Barrymore says that supporting the Beauty Mark initiative is particularly important to her as a mom. "This mission is taking us one step closer towards ensuring a more inclusive, more realistic representation in beauty, and it is something I am so immensely proud to be a part of," she says.
Now, the retailer will enter a new Beauty Mark phase, zeroing in on the mental health effects of increased screen time due to COVID-19. According to Neela Montgomery, President of CVS Pharmacy and Executive Vice President of CVS Health, this marks a significant milestone in mental health efforts for the organization.
"We are proud to lead the beauty industry in making a bold statement that supports the mental health of our customers, especially young women," Montgomery says. "We hope this authenticity will continue as the pandemic has created new and different issues in this space." Research conducted by CVS shows an increase in self-confidence concerns due to time spent on digital calls in the pandemic. The brand partnered with media psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge to conduct an online survey among women ages 18-35 and found that 56% of women would rather give up something they love for a week than post a photo online about which they don't feel confident. Research also revealed that one in three women is less confident in their appearance than a year ago. However, an overwhelming majority of the women surveyed say they feel inspired by unedited images of models online, proving the Beauty Mark initiative is on the right track.
The work doesn't stop at full compliance for CVS. The retailer tapped beauty influencer Nyma Tang as its first-ever beauty inclusivity consultant to continue equity efforts. In her new role, Tang will work with CVS to ensure an inclusive shopping experience for consumers not only in imagery but in the products available on shelves. Tang, an always outspoken voice in the beauty industry, announced her new partnership with the brand, sharing that she will be working with CVS to pitch new brands and marketing strategies to the company. "I want to make sure that if I see something that can be potentially harmful and triggering that I am there to call it out," she explained in a YouTube video. "With this seat at the table, I get to bring all of you with me."
Tang's new role and CVS's continued pledge to transparency is another step in the right direction for the retailer and its consumers. And while the road to redefining beauty industry standards is a complex, multi-faceted journey, rather than a quick sprint, bold actions, like Beauty Mark, make us hopeful for what's to come.