RICHMOND, Va. — Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds are gearing up to test smokeless tobacco products come March. This will mark the debut of PM USA’s cigarette-store.biz/online/marlboro and Skoal smokeless tobacco sticks and the second round of testing for R.J. Reynolds’s Camel Sticks, Camel Strips and Camel Orbs.
The Marlboro smokeless tobacco sticks are geared to adult smokers who are looking for a smokeless alternative to cigarettes. Similarly, Skoal is introducing a spit-free product aimed at adult users of moist tobacco products who are looking for a spitless alternative, according to a spokesman for Altria Client Services. Altria Group Inc. is the parent company of Philip Morris USA. “About a quarter of adult cigarette smokers say they are interested in smokeless tobacco,” he said, adding that a large percentage of adult users of moist tobacco products are also looking for an alternative.
Out of the gate the products will be available in limited distribution in select markets in Kansas. The company declined to release how long the test period will last.
The Marlboro products will be available in four varieties: rich tobacco sticks, original tobacco sticks, cool mint tobacco sticks and smooth mint tobacco sticks. The new Skoal products will also be available in four varieties: rich tobacco sticks, original tobacco sticks, mint tobacco sticks and smooth mint sticks.
All varieties of the Marlboro and Skoal smokeless tobacco sticks will come 10 per pack and will be merchandised like all other cigarette and smokeless tobacco products, the spokesman added.
R.J. Reynolds is also conducting tests on products. The company has tapped Denver and Charlotte, N.C. as markets for the second test phase of its Camel Dissolvable product line. This round comes two months after the tobacco manufacturer wrapped up the first test phase in Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Portland, Ore.
Based on testing of the Camel Sticks, Camel Strips and Camel Orbs with adult tobacco users the company made some changes to the packaging to bring it more in line with other tobacco products already on the market, according to David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds. Specifically, he explained, the packaging is now larger which allows for more information to be displayed. Information includes the child resistant features, as well as wording explaining that the product contains nicotine and is for adult tobacco users only, and that there is no safe tobacco product.
All three styles are now mint and all three will have the same number of products per package, 12, Howard said. Previously, the Camel Strips came 20 to a pack, the Camel Orbs came 15 to a pack and the Camel Sticks came 10 to a pack.
Overall, R. J. Reynolds was happy with the first round of testing. “We were very pleased with the feedback we received from adult tobacco users in the lead markets over the past two years,” Howard added. “And we are looking forward to additional feedback and new perspectives.”
Howard explained that lead markets are chosen for their make-up of the adult tobacco audience and for the overall awareness of the Camel brand. He added that there is no timetable for the second test phase.
By Melissa Kress