Darryl Humphrey Blog Cigarette Brands and Brand Variants

Cigarette Brands and Brand Variants

Premium Cigarette Brands are viewed as a status symbol and smokers believe that brand variant names distinguish genuine quality differences between cigarette products. However, in a plain packaging environment, the extent to which such differences are attributable to consumer expectations rather than to genuine product characteristics has not previously been examined.

Eight focus groups were conducted with 81 current cigarette smokers aged 19–39 years to discuss their experiences with different cigarette brand variants. The interviews commenced with a card sort to ask participants to group cigarette brands into categories based on their cost (premium, mainstream, value, and super-value segments). A further task was then conducted wherein participants were presented with pairs of cigarettes from apparently premium and value packs. Participants were randomly allocated to smoke the actual premium cigarette or the actual value cigarette from each pack. They then rated the cigarette on a variety of attributes including Taste, harm/strength measures (strength, tar, volume of smoke, and lightness), harshness and dryness, and staleness.

Indulging in Luxury: Exploring Premium Cigarette Brands

The results showed that, as hypothesized, the apparent cigarette brand segment name altered how smokers experienced the cigarette. For example, Taste was rated more favorably when the premium brand variant name was present compared to when it was absent. More specific sensory qualities such as harshness and dryness also rated more favorably when the premium brand name was present. However, staleness was rated more negatively when the premium brand name was present. This negative effect may be due to the presentation method of the cigarettes, with participants viewing the branded cigarette as being more stale than the masked cigarette when presented in a regular pack versus a resealable pouch.

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