Although the companies initially indicated that CVS and Soma.com would retain separate brands, Mitchell Reed said Soma.com now will join CVS's Web site and adopt the CVS name to take advantage of the offline drugstore giant's brand and name recognition.
"Clearly it's to everyone's advantage to use a name that has attention and respect," Reed said. CVS announced in May that it was acquiring Soma.com for $30 million. Reed said the deal has since been finalized.
Soma.com became the first online pharmacy when it launched its site in January. However, its debut failed to match the fanfare that surrounded subsequent launches of Amazon.com-aligned Drugstore.com and Benchmark Capital-backed PlanetRx.
Jupiter Communications health analyst David Restrepo said Soma.com has little to lose by shedding its brand name, because the company has spent little money marketing it. Although Drugstore.com recently teamed up with RiteAid, and PlanetRx is widely expected to find an offline partner as well, Restrepo said he expected both sites to keep their names.
Ultimately an online pharmacy's name is of secondary importance to its partnerships with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), Restrepo said. Pharmacy customers can't use their health insurance to pay for prescriptions unless a pharmacy has a relationship with a PBM.
Drugstore.com's partner Rite Aid owns PCS, one of the top PBMs. But Restrepo said it's unclear whether CVS's offline partnerships with PBMs will carry over to its online site.
"It's great that they have this strong partner in CVS," Restrepo said. "But they're still lacking a big piece of the puzzle."