Over the first eight months of the year, e-cigarette sales have decreased by 0.7%. This is not a very important decrease. Health authorities do not fully acknowledge this failure but it seems that the neutral packaging doesn’t have a major impact on smokers. The only drawback is that neutral packaging makes it harder to find your cigarette pack during evenings with fellow smokers!
With that being said, are all cigarette brands equal with this new packaging? Actually, no. One brand has seen its sales rise by 3.4% and is resisting strongly any public health effort of the government. And this brand is Marlboro. Its market share rose from 25.38% to 26.51%. And this is quite a lot since there are 16 million people who smoke in France at least from time to time.
Authorities had not foreseen this evolution. They had planned that the neutral packaging would actually encourage the sale of the least expensive cigarette packs. After all, if there’s no difference any more in the pack, why would smokers chose the most expensive ones?
A rational explanation
The explanation actually lies in the shelving of the cigarette packs. They are most of the time located behind the tobacconist and, with the neutral pack, it’s become harder to read the brand. Therefore, if smokers can no longer read the different brands available, they tend to ask for the most famous brand: Marlboro.
What’s more, the lack of differenciation doesn’t encourage curiosity. This is good news for the fight against tobacco but also for brands with strong spontaneous awareness such as Philip Morris or Marlboro. And the latter actually belongs to the former.
Will the planned cigarette pack price increase of one euro per year till 10 euros divert smokers towards vaping? Maybe, but they may also divert them towards the black market. And guess which brand is sold the most on the black market? And you’re probably right on the mark!