CVS Health names Michelle Peluso as first chief customer officer

Dive Brief:

  • CVS Health named Michelle Peluso as its first chief customer officer to oversee the health services company’s consumer experience (CX) efforts and digital strategy. Peluso previously was senior vice president of digital sales and CMO at technology giant IBM, chief consumer marketing and internet officer at Citigroup and held leadership roles at Gilt Groupe and Travelocity, per an announcement.
  • In her new role, Peluso will manage CVS Health’s marketing and brand strategy, digital transformation and consumer experience. She will join the company on Jan. 25 and report directly to Karen S. Lynch, who will become president and CEO of CVS Health on Feb. 1.
  • Peluso is joining CVS Health as the company undertakes a variety of initiatives that not only include the mass distribution of coronavirus vaccines, but also the launch of an advertising network for in-store and digital campaigns. It will also have new leadership with Lynch, who is currently executive vice president at CVS Health and president of the chain’s Aetna health insurance arm. She will replace long-time president and CEO Larry Merlo.

Dive Insight:

CVS Health’s hiring of Michelle Peluso, who has a proven track record in accelerating the digital capabilities of big legacy brands like IBM and Citigroup, for the newly created role chief customer officer highlights the growing importance of digital marketing channels for the company, which not only operates a major drugstore chain, but also provides health insurance and manages pharmacy benefit plans. In November, CVS Health reported that its third-quarter revenue increased 3.5%, reflecting the success of efforts to reposition the chain as a health services company.  

Peluso’s appointment also comes as the pandemic has made the online customer experience (CX) more crucial for retail chains. CVS Health operates about 9,900 drugstores that have remained open throughout the pandemic because of their essential role in distributing medicines and providing other health-related services. With many people avoiding stores because of the pandemic, websites and mobile apps have become key customer touchpoints for retailers. CVS Pharmacy is among the chains that have expanded their delivery and curbside pickup services for customers who are wary of shopping in stores.

Peluso is joining CVS Health as its pharmacy chain expands into advertising sales. In August, CVS Pharmacy introduced the CVS Media Exchange (CMX) to help marketers reach consumers in stores and online. Amid the surge in e-commerce during the pandemic, several retailers have ramped up their efforts to sell search and display ads on their websites. Amazon, Best Buy, Kroger, Target and Walgreens also have media networks to connect with consumers when they’re most ready to shop.

While at IBM, Peluso oversaw marketing, digital sales and its commercial business, with responsibility for more than $5 billion in yearly revenue worldwide. Before that, she was chief consumer marketing and internet officer for Citigroup, the financial services company. She also was CEO of online shopping company Gilt Groupe and travel website Travelocity.com. Peluso is on the board of directors at sportswear giant Nike and the Ad Council, the nonprofit distributor of public service announcements. She also is on the executive council of the board of directors of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

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