Greg Fuller, Head of Route to Market at Imperial Tobacco UK, gives his views on current market trends and new product launches.

JPS-Triple-Flow-19s-PMPTobacco continues to be a key offering in convenience stores, with 82% of retailers recognising its importance to the overall success of their businesses. 39% of adult smokers say tobacco is their main driver to visit, with tobacco shoppers making an average of 4.5 store visits per week. Meanwhile, the average spend by a tobacco shopper is £10.57, almost double that of a nontobacco shopper (£5.45).

Imperial Tobacco continues to both react to and cater for changing adult smoker trends, illustrated by a raft of new product launches and recent range refreshes across both the Factory Made Cigarette (FMC) and Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco categories.

Allied to this, the value for money increasingly demanded by priceconscious adult smokers means almost 32% of all cigarette packs sold in the UK now stem from the sub economy price sector. That’s up 23% year-over-year (YOY), and it’s a pattern the research suggests is set to continue. Additionally, one in ten cigarettes purchased in the UK at the time of writing is a capsule variant. This figure is also up 23% YOY.

Anticipating these trends, Imperial Tobacco added Crushball to Player’s portfolio last May. In terms of RRP it’s the best value capsule offering in the market, and available in both King Size 18s with an RRP of £6.49 (Price marked packs (PMPs available at £6.14) and brand-new King Size 10s with a RRP3 of £3.64. (PMPs3 available at £3.33.) Crushball has been extremely well received by retailers and customers alike. Both ITL’s sub economy brands are continuing to perform well, with Carlton and Player’s contributing to a current sector share of almost 40%.

Their detailed consumer research helps them develop product lines that remain both relevant and attractive to adult smokers. They also offer retailers the best opportunities to maximise profits, and Crushball is an excellent recent example of this.

Hot on the heels of the successful launch of Player’s Crushball came another well-received sub-economy product with Carlton – the UK’s number one sub-economy cigarette brand – launching Superkings Menthol 18s, also last May. They have an RRP of £6.40, and are also available in PMPs at only £6.14. Menthol currently accounts for around 7.5% of volume across the FMC market, and this offering has been designed to cater for the increasing number of downtrading smokers moving into the sub economy sector.

Indications show that the downtrading trend is set to continue for some time, meaning manufacturers need to continue to offer compelling solutions. Given the Superkings format is often the preferred choice of menthol smokers, this addition to the Carlton range offers adult smokers a great value menthol cigarette.

In the economy sector, which currently accounts for 28%1 of cigarette sales, L&B Blue has continued its extraordinary journey since its February ’14 launch. L&B Blue Superkings 10s arrived last June, reflecting the fact that packs of 10 currently account for 20% of the economy sector.

The entire Lambert & Butler family underwent a striking new packaging and branding refresh last July, with Lambert & Butler Silver returning to its historic roots and L&B Blue receiving a new, modern twist – further strengthening the already-iconic brand’s resonance with adult smokers.

L&B Blue also launched a new ‘Ice Capsule’ variant last September.

Available in both King Size 19s and 10s, Ice Capsule combines the taste of a smooth Virginia tobacco blend with a capsule in the filter that releases a cool blast of menthol. The RRP3 for L&B Blue Ice Capsule King Size 19s is £7.55, and £4.09 for King Size 10s. Both are also available in PMPs3, at £6.89 and £3.78 respectively.

In order to offer better value and lower out-of-pocket spend for adult smokers, Windsor Blue King Size 19s moved to King Size 18s last November. Their new RRP is £6.99, with PMPs available at the same price while stocks last.

Last July saw the JPS FMC family undergo a pack redesign, injecting the iconic British cigarette brand with a distinctively modern aesthetic. JPS variants Blue – which alone commands a UK market share of almost 4% – Black, Silver, Menthol and White all benefited from the rebranding.

Last December, the latest edition to the JPS FMC family – JPS Triple Flow – was released. Triple Flow possesses unique ‘easy draw’ channels, with the new, high quality smooth blend enhanced by an innovative filter. Each cigarette is also wrapped in a special paper, designed to actively reduce the amount of smoke emitted – which may result in less smell.

Despite increasing excise duty rates coupled with adult smokers seeking greater value from their tobacco purchases, 1 in 4 packs of cigarettes sold today still stem from the premium and sub-premium price sectors1. The enhanced margins provided by illustrious brands like Davidoff, Embassy, Regal, SUPERKINGS and Lambert & Butler Silver means they continue to be ‘must-stocks’ for retailers in 2016 and beyond.

In the RYO category, trends over the past few years have seen a marked increase in the number of adult smokers who are shopping ‘little and often’, and who are also seeking a quality product with a lower out of pocket spend.

Last summer ITL’s GV Smooth family – the UK’s fastest growing RYO brand – announced the addition of a trial for new GV Midnight and GV Sunrise to bolster its offering in the value sector. The former offers adult smokers a rich, full flavour, while the latter is an ultra-smooth smoke.

GV Midnight and GV Sunrise enjoyed a successful January launch in the 10g format, and from 1st March GV Midnight and Sunrise will also be available in 30g packs (inc. papers). GV Midnight and Sunrise 10g and 30g packs are available at RRPs3 of £3.90 and £10.75 respectively. PMPs3 are also available at the same price, while stocks last.

Meanwhile, GV Smooth 25g – including papers – now boasts ‘Pocket Plus’, a built-in internal pouch which allows adult smokers to store accessories like papers, filters and a lighter in one convenient, on-the-move packaging solution. The 25g pack is available with an RRP3 of £9.36, with PMPs available at £8.69 while stocks last.

Player’s Red Volume Tobacco hit retailers’ shelves last November. It’s a versatile blend which will appeal to adult smokers who roll their own or use a cigarette maker. The volumeboosting technology works in conjunction with ITL’s new tobacco blend to provide consumers with unbeatable value for money.

Player’s Red Volume Tobacco is available in three sizes: an 8g trial pack, 20g pouch plus a 50g can at competitive RRPs3 of £2.59, £6.82 (both including papers) and £16.94 respectively. PMPs are available while stocks last.

Other competitive Imperial RYO offerings include JPS RYO plus papers, which was the subject of a significant pack change last November where it transitioned from a silver pack to a striking new blue design.

While smaller packs tend to be more prevalent in independent stores it’s important for retailers not to discount stocking larger sizes either. With more than one in five packs of RYO tobacco sold being the 50g variant, larger offerings are becoming increasingly relevant as they offer adult smokers excellent value for money.

Last October, Golden Virginia – the UK’s number one premium Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco brand with a sector share of over 91% – enjoyed a striking new packaging redesign, which combines an exciting glimpse into the brand’s future with a nostalgic nod to its roots.

Now, Imperial Tobacco is delighted to announce that from the middle of April, Golden Virginia will be available in limited edition tins containing 50g of Golden Virginia tobacco.

Imperial Tobacco Brand Manager Madeleine Pearce comments: “This limited edition tin retails for £19.65.

That’s the same price as a regular 50g pouch, so we’re expecting them to fly off the shelves. Retailers should ensure they stock up on this iconic, profit-driving tobacco brand while the offer lasts.”

The Golden Virginia range comprises 12.5g, 25g (inc. papers) and 50g (inc. papers) pouches, with RRPs of £5.24, £9.93 and £19.65 respectively. All three are also available in PMPs at £4.77, £9.15, and £18.09 respectively.

Another trend among adult smokers is ‘dualing’; smoking RYO during the week but switching to cigarettes at the weekend.

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