Tobacco Companies Look to Innovation

Capsule filter technology and packaging NPDs

For BAT, innovation is currently focused on capsule filter technology and packaging to offer improved freshness. By the end of 2010, capsules have been rolled out in about half of BAT’s main markets while the ‘Reloc’ resealable pack was used in all the main Dunhill markets. Cigarettes with capsule technology allow smokers to change the taste of cigarettes by popping a small ball of (usually menthol) flavouring in the filter.

Two rows of cigarettes

Two rows of cigarettes

In Japan, where smokers like flavours, the technology was introduced successfully in the Kent, Kool and Lucky Strike brands. Meanwhile, the ‘Reloc’ pack aims to keep cigarettes fresher after the pack has been opened, and, according to BAT, helped Dunhill to go from a tiny 2% market share in the Gulf States to almost 11% in ‘a remarkably short period of time’.

Capsule technology is not the sole preserve of BAT and is a part of a flavour trend in cigarettes, mainly focused on menthol. In Japan, for example, Marlboro Ice Blast uses ‘innovative menthol capsule technology’ which achieved ‘a more than 1% share after only six months in the market’. Flavour technology for cigarettes is one of the key innovation themes of the last 12 months. Kent Boost, launched in South Korea in February 2011 has two levels of menthol in one cigarette, offering an extra burst of menthol when the smoker presses the capsule in the filter. Kent Boost contains 6mg of tar and is priced at 2,500 Won ($2.20).

The BAT ‘Reloc’ technology is marketed as a means of securing a ‘fresher’ product. This kind of innovation is designed not only to lock in flavour but lock in the smoker to a premium brand by helping to justify the price and discourage downtrading. Similarly, Swedish Match has introduced the new FlavorFresh™ Lid, which claims to lock in freshness for its US Red Man smokeless tobacco brand.

Smokeless and flavour NPDs

The favour themes in cigarettes NPDs extend into the smokeless tobacco category. Pure Mint, a new version of the Swedish Match snus brand Catch, was launched in Sweden in late 2010. According to the company, interest in different varieties of flavoured snus is increasing and mint is one of ‘the most sought-after flavours’. Swedish Match also launched a limited edition snus called Kardus with an East India theme sold in an oak box with a piece of china inside each box as ‘a legacy from the final voyage of the East Indiaman, the Götheborg, in 1745’. Other additions to the Catch collection include Mellow, with a rhubarb flavor, and Glow, with a taste of elder and lime. Catch Collection Ease, has a ginger and orange flavour and will be available in mini-format portion pouches.

Superslims NPDs

As well as packaging to achieve better product quality, style is also a major driver of NPD. Superslims are a global trend in NPDs and have been the key design innovation of the last five years, with particular appeal to the female smoker but also ‘cross-over’ appeal in a number of markets such as South Korea where men have been receptive to the style (see article: ‘Slim/Superslims Big in South Korea and Growing Globally’). In Spring 2010 Karelia Tobacco Co launched Omé Menthol (4 mg) superslims in the United Kingdom in co-operation with Villiger and Altadis France following the launch of its Omé superslims range in France. Since 2009, the Omé range has been launched in 20 international duty-free and domestic markets in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. The cigarettes are packed in a 20-piece compact ‘purse pack’.

Reduced odour

Some NPDs try to combine style and technology: JT’s D-spec technology claims to reduce unpleasant tobacco smoke odours but the key design feature is the blue ‘D’ icon on the box signifying the use of D-spec technologies. ‘D-spec’ is Japan Tobacco International’s (JTI) proprietary odour-reducing technology which employs carbon in the filter as well as a double layer of paper and added flavours in order to reduce odour emitted from burning cigarettes.

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