Black & Mild Going Sweet

John Middleton enters untipped cigarillo market with Classic, Sweet flavors

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Group Editor

RICHMOND, Va. -- Already a market leader in tipped cigarillos, John Middleton Co., a division of Altria Inc., is branching into the untipped cigarillo market. After extensive test runs in Ohio and Tennessee, the tobacco giant is rolling out nationally two new profiles, Black & Mild Classic and Black & Mild Sweets.

"Classic is for adult cigar smokers interested in a classic Black & Mild pipe tobacco taste, while Sweets is a more traditional cigarillo taste made from primarily air cured tobaccos," Altria spokesperson Greg Mathe told CSP Daily News. "Both [image-nocss] products are available in five-packs and singles."

The rollouts extend Altria's continued expansion into the other tobacco products (OTP), most notably in cigars and moist smokeless. Alluding to last year's test markets of untipped cigarillos, Mathe noted, "Middleton found...that there is significant interest and product appeal among both competitive and Black & Mild adult cigar smokers. The test market results exceeded Middleton's expectations and business objectives."

Because of growth in the untipped cigarillo segment, Altria views this foray as a natural step in ratcheting up its total-tobacco portfolio across all segments, from cigarettes to moist smokeless, cigars and snus. Since its acquisitions of USST and John Middleton, Altria has focused on brand extensions by offering a greater variety of tastes and blends..

Pointing to this latest move, Mathe said the company was buoyed by some key findings during its testing in Ohio and Tennessee, including that 20% of smokers who had bought and tried Black & Mild untipped cigarillo ranked it better than their regular brand, and that 75% rated it equal to or better than their regular brand.

John Middleton's cigar brands include Black & Mild, Middleton's Cherry Blend, Gold & Mild and Prince Albert's Cigars. Pipe-tobacco brands include Prince Albert, Carter Hall and Middleton's Cherry Blend.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria directly or indirectly owns 100% of each of PM USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd., and PMCC. Altria holds a continuing economic and voting interest in SABMiller plc.

By Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Group Editor
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