Tobacco Road to Innovation

New packaging promises a better consumer experience

By  Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

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For Ann Flint, it’s a good time to be a tobacco category manager, given the attention-grabbing product and packaging innovations recently filling the category pipeline.

Flint, senior category manager of tobacco/OTP, for Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms, sees a lot of upside in the snus, e-cigarette and cigar segments as manufacturers appear to be stepping up their efforts to capitalize on the growing number of consumers migrating from cigarettes to OTP.

Experimentation with new offers is the good news; how to right-size the category in the face of a plethora of options is the challenge for Flint and other retailers as she perfects a proper mix for Cumberland Farms’ 600 stores in 11 East Coast states.

Snu Stability
On the MST front, Camel Snus is now available in a nonrefrigerated tin, which provides distribution and merchandising flexibility while still maintaining freshness. “This product was very well received because Camel Snus no longer has to be shipped with perishables,” says Flint.

“Non-refrigerated snus was a sound business decision,” says Richard J. Smith, spokesperson for Winston-Salem, N.C.-based RAI Services Co./Reynolds American Inc. “It’s the same product it’s always been, just without the requirement of refrigeration.”

The shift toward nonrefrigerated product coincides with the introduction of a thinner tin, which contains 15 pouches each. “The thinner, sleeker tin creates a seal from top to bottom to lock in freshness, and it’s also easier to carry,” says Smith.

One tobacco consultant views nonrefrigerated snus as a trend some consumers will have to get used to. “I’m sure there are snus purists that may struggle with the concept of a nonrefrigerated product,” says Lou Maiellano, president of TAZ Marketing & Consulting Group, Sevierville, Tenn.

While not all snus have the luxury of living outside refrigeration, “there are those who maintain that refrigeration is not as critical—just as long as the product is kept in a constant cool temperature,” Maiellano says. “Retailers should be aware that this product is one that will lose its quality if exposed to heat, whether from the sun, through a store window or any equipment that generates heat or significant change in temperature.”

Cigars Locked and Loaded
On the cigar front, a number of manufacturers have rolled out packaging that keeps moisture locked in for a fresher product. The pouches serve as a bona fide humidor, promising the retailer longer shelf life and the ability to merchandise higher-ticket cigars.

Premium cigar manufacturer General Cigar Co. began offering Locked-In Humidity packaging for select sizes of its top-selling Macanudo, Partagas, Punch and Excalibur brands. The protective, airtight packaging provides fresh-from-the-factory flavor in nonhumidified environments.

One of the early adopters of the new packaging, Swedish Match first introduced its trademarked FoilFresh pouches in 2007.

The new cigar pouches “are a positive for both the retailers and the consumers, as product life and freshness are extended,” Maiellano says. “These introductions also have enabled many new product offerings to come to market on a broader scale.

Cigar consumers enjoy fresh products, and that is a plus for all.”

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