Big Tobacco's Marketing Tactics: Influencers and Nicotine Pouches

Market by 2FIRSTS.ai
Jul.31.2023
Big Tobacco's Marketing Tactics: Influencers and Nicotine Pouches
According to The Observer on July 30th, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JTI) are aggressively promoting nicotine pouches in the UK.

According to a report from The Observer on July 30th, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) are vigorously promoting nicotine pouches in the United Kingdom.

 

A report states that British American Tobacco (BAT) is actively collaborating with young influencers on Instagram in the UK to promote its nicotine pouch brand Velo. Similarly, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has partnered with 12 music festivals in the UK to vigorously promote its nicotine pouch brand, Nordic Spirit.

 

A composite picture showing social-media-style marketing images for Velo pouches, including a promotional stand, people at an outdoor event, and someone holding a packet of Velos
Velo's campaign on Instagram | Velo instagram

 

A report has highlighted that despite significant investments in marketing by tobacco companies, nicotine pouch sales in the UK remain relatively small. However, data indicates that the market share for nicotine pouches is growing - according to figures from Japan Tobacco, the total value of the nicotine pouch market in the UK has reached £45.8 million, compared to just £3 million in 2020.

 

British American Tobacco (BAT) claims to hold a 52% market share in the nicotine pouch industry in the United Kingdom.

 

These marketing campaigns have raised concerns among health experts and activists. They argue that tobacco companies are able to position nicotine pouches as "fashionable lifestyle products" instead of promoting them as smoking alternatives, largely due to the lack of regulation surrounding these products.

 

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale of all nicotine products to individuals under the age of 21 and prohibits companies from giving away free samples. Recently, the Netherlands also implemented a blanket ban on the sale of nicotine pouches. However, in the UK, nicotine pouches differ from e-cigarettes and are not classified as tobacco-related products, thus they can be legally sold to individuals under the age of 18. These nicotine pouches come in various concentrations and flavors, such as watermelon, strawberry, and mint, and can also be advertised on social media platforms, which typically restrict promotions of e-cigarettes.

 

The advertising regulatory agency has stated that promotional activities must be "responsible" and cannot directly target children. However, the statutory restrictions that apply to e-cigarettes and other age-restricted products do not cover price promotions, celebrity endorsements, and the dissemination of "misleading information.

 

A company promoting nicotine pouches in the UK has stated that despite relaxed regulations, their marketing practices are responsible, and they never target individuals under the age of 18. The company asserts that these nicotine pouches, which do not contain tobacco, serve as a risk-reducing substitute primarily aimed at existing nicotine users.

 

However, based on the marketing strategies of British American Tobacco, American Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco for nicotine pouches, this may not be entirely true.

 

两名面带微笑的年轻女子坐在一辆经过改装的敞篷露营车里,车上涂有蓝色和白色的北欧精神制服,并带有徽标
Nordic Spirit on the Vaper Expo Birmingham, 2022 | Getty

 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK has confirmed that they are currently reviewing several advertisements flagged by The Observer newspaper to determine their compliance with regulations. The ASA has stated that nicotine pouch advertisements must be "socially responsible" rather than directly targeting children. However, since these products are not subject to legal age restrictions, statutory limitations do not apply.

 

Instagram has stated that these advertisements have violated its guidelines. They have stated, "We do not permit the promotion of tobacco-related products or brand content and will continue to remove any content that violates our rules.

 

British American Tobacco stated that the marketing of Velo "complies with all applicable laws" and that they only collaborate with influencers over the age of 25, with the "vast majority" of their fans being over 18 years old.

 

Japan Tobacco has stated that they will only promote Nordic Spirit to "adult smokers, e-cigarette users, and nicotine consumers." They claim that their product is suitable for situations where smoking or using e-cigarettes is not possible. They emphasize that Japan Tobacco International is fully committed to the principle of ensuring that minors never use or come into contact with nicotine-containing products.

 

Reference:

[1] Influencers and freebies: Big Tobacco’s push to sell nicotine pouches in UK

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