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Open Access Research

Retail promotions and perceptions of R.J. Reynolds' novel dissolvable tobacco in a US test market

Laura M Romito1*, M Kim Saxton2, Lorinda L Coan3 and Arden G Christen1

Author Affiliations

1 Oral Biology Department, Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

2 Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

3 Department of Periodontics & Allied Health, Indiana School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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Harm Reduction Journal 2011, 8:10  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-8-10

Published: 15 May 2011

Abstract

Background

With declining cigarette sales, tobacco manufacturers have been developing and marketing new smokeless products, such as R. J. Reynolds' dissolvable tobacco, Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs. This study assessed the availability, price and point-of-purchase promotional strategies for Camel Dissolvables, and investigated consumer awareness, interest and perception of these products in the Indiana test market.

Methods

An exploratory retail audit of point-of-purchase promotions was conducted in a random sample of retailers from 6 store categories (n = 81) in the test market area. Data included: store type, location, product placement, forms/flavors carried, price, types and locations of advertisements and promotions, and ad messages. An Awareness-Attitude-Usage (AAU) survey was used to gauge consumer awareness and knowledge of tobacco products including Camel Dissolvables. Respondents were shown promotional materials from a package onsert and perceptions and interest in the Camel Dissolvables were assessed. An Intended Target Survey (ITS) compared subjects' perceptions of ad targets for several non-tobacco products, as well as Camel Snus, Camel No. 9 and Camel Dissolvables. Respondents were asked to identify each ad's intended target category, perceived targetedness, and purchase intent.

Results

The products were carried by 46% of stores, most frequently gas stations (100%) and convenience stores (75%). They were shelved near smokeless tobacco (70%), cigarettes (25%) or candy (5%). Prices ranged from $3.59 -$4.19 per package; most stores carried at least 1 promotional item. Ad messages included: "Dissolvable Tobacco" (60%). "Free Trial" (24%), "Special Price" (24%), "What's Your Style?" (22%). At 14% of stores, free trial packs of Camel Dissolvables were offered with another Camel purchase. Awareness was reported by 42% of respondents (n = 243), and trial by 3%. Consumer interest was very low, but younger respondents (< 40 years) were more familiar with Camel Dissolvables (60% vs. 45% for those > 40 years, p < .01). Males, as well as current and former smokers had higher rates of interest and trial; only 1% of never smokers reported trial. In the ITS, only for the 3 tobacco product ads, was perceived targetedness for smokers significantly higher than for non-smokers. Smokers and nonsmokers perceived that the ads targeted smokers.

Conclusions

Current retail promotional strategies for Camel Sticks, Strips & Orbs appear to be targeting a select audience, primarily current smokers. Overall, consumer awareness, interest and trial were low.