Malboro, the learder brand in the tabacco market
Marlboro, leader in the tobacco market, was treated in the same way as the other brands. The brands were indeed obliged to follow the law of « neutral packages » by stopping all personalised packaging, considered as a marketing element intended to sell.
Neutral package: how is it for tobacco brands ?
With the new neutral packages, cigarette sales fell by only 0.7% while those of the Marlboro brand increased by 3.4%.
This is news that should make Marisol Touraine doubtful. Minister of Health of former President François Hollande, she fought to put in place the package of neutral cigarettes among the tobacconists, now mandatory since January. However, the measure, which was supposed to dissuade smokers, has not proved its worth: in the first eight months of 2017, cigarette sales fell by only 0.7%.
This quasi-stability looks like failure from a public health point of view. Even more aggressive for anti-tobacco products, sales of the iconic Marlboro increased by 3.4% over the period.
Market share : how does it goes for brands ?
The market share of the market leader rose from 25.38% to 26.51%. This is a surprise, as Philip Morris’ flagship brand is one of the most expensive, at 7 euros per package. Many expected that the Touraine law, by banning logos, would benefit the least expensive brands. However, the market share of packages at EUR 6.50 has fallen by almost 1 point since January to 48.24%, and the low-cost segment (EUR 6.30 per package) has not taken off at 1.6%. The price differential is too small to divert smokers from expensive brands. The neutral package, on the other hand, benefits the one with the highest notoriety. Indeed, since the brand’s reputation has already been acquired, the beginning of neutral packages has only strengthened the identity of the brands and mainly that of Marlboro. Marlboro is a truly emblematic brand of cigarettes and has become even more prominent since the neutral packages.
How is it for smokers ?
Many smokers may have already experienced it: order their usual cigarette packs and end up with a cardboard box of the same size, but with a dreadful colour, showing a shocking image of sick lungs, necrotic gums or even a corpse. If they were disgusted with this new packaging, the bet is partly successful for the Ministry of Health. The objective of this « neutral package »: remove the aesthetic aspect of the object, considered as an essential marketing tool to recruit and retain consumers and thus reduce tobacco consumption.
If some tobacconists and tobacco manufacturers had already started distributing these new packages, it is mandatory from January 1. The Conseil d’ Etat dismissed the appeals lodged by tobacconists and tobacco manufacturers. The High Court considers that, although this measure constitutes « a limitation on the right of ownership in so far as it regulates the use of trade marks », it is nevertheless « proportionate to the public health objective pursued » and « in conformity with European Union law ».
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