Still a time to innovate


WITH major changes likely but still being challenged Britain’s tobacco giants are pursuing a twin-track marketing and advisory strategy with their retailer customers.
Both Imperial Tobacco and JTI UK now have advisory programmes in full swing. At the same time they say it’s business as usual on their brands in a market that has remained vibrant, continues to show moves by adult smokers to value products, but which still has many consumers who remain loyal to premium brands, and which is still marked by significant new product development.
JTI has produced a guide providing key facts and dates relating to EUTPD 2 which is free to retailers and downloadable from
Imperial Tobacco has developed its Partnering for Success programme to offer advice on EUTPD 2 and standardised packaging.
As part of the programme it has created START (Support, Training, Availability, Range and Trust) packs, which are distributed by Imperial Tobacco reps.
On commercial aspects of the market Imperial Tobacco’s head of field sales Andrew Miller stressed that tobacco continues to be very important for c-stores. Quoting HIM Research’s Convenience Tracking Programme findings he said 39% of adult smokers gave tobacco as their main reason to visit a store. Tobacco shoppers make an average of 4.5 visits to stores a week and their average basket spend of £10.57 is twice that of non-tobacco shoppers.
He sees growing popularity of capsule cigarettes as very significant. Their share of the market has now reached 10%. And value remains hugely important, some 30% of cigarette sales are now in the sub-economy price sector, he said.
Imperial responded to both trends with the launch of Player’s Crushball last year, which it said provided the best value RRP in capsule cigarettes.

Other Imperial Tobacco cigarettes activity in sub-economy lines included the launch of Carlton Superkings Menthol 18s. In the economy sector L&B Blue launched in 10s to provide the lowest-priced Lambert & Butler product. It later launched L&B Blue Ice, with Crushball. And the entire Lambert & Butler portfolio branding was refreshed. The company’s JPS portfolio also saw a brand refresh.
JTI’s portfolio includes several brands in what it calls the Value, Super Value and Ultra Value sectors including Sovereign, Sterling and B&H Blue. In October last year the firm introduced packs of 17 sticks to the Sovereign range.
JTI stresses both that PMPs are performing very well in c-stores and that premium cigarettes are still important to many adult smokers. Last year saw a new pack design introduced for Camel.
RYO tobacco is now worth more than £2.1bn a year in Britain and one in three cigarettes smoked in Britain is now RYO said JTI’s Blackburn. JTI owns the category leader Amber Leaf, which it says now accounts for 12.4% of the total tobacco market.
Value lines, PMPs and smaller sizes are all important to RYO and retailers should stock a wide range of brands and sizes to meet the variety of consumer preferences, he said.
Last Autumn JTI relaunched Holborn Smooth Taste as Holborn Yellow.
At Imperial Tobacco, Miller said in RYO almost 45% of RYO retail sales in the UK are in packs of 12.5g or less.
The last year has seen Imperial launch GV Midnight and GV Sunrise in 10g packs only. And in November Imperial launched Player’s Red Volume Tobacco – a blend produced with “volume-boosting” technology to provide what Imperial says is unbeatable value for money.
Also competing in value RYO are products from other manufacturers including Salsa from STG UK, Pall Mall RYO from BAT and Bentley from Ritmeester.