After the arrival of plain packaging and EUTPD II last year, tobacco supplier activity seemed to stop. But new brand developments have recently been hitting the headlines. Alex Yau takes stock of what the big manufacturers have been up to

Sterling: JTI invites store-owners to informal curry socials to see the latest products and hear the latest merchandising advice. An early launch following the introduction of plain packs, Sterling Dual has been high on the agenda.  

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Kamal Sisodia, Belvoir News, Coalville
Customers have become more price-sensitive since legislation banned the sale of 10-packs and they are more concerned about how much they can get for their money these days. The socials are useful because I get to learn first-hand about new products such as Sterling Dual Capsules and the best ways to tell customers why they’re value for money. 

Silk Cut: How do you sell premium brands in an era of plain packaging? JTI’s long-standing JTI Advance website has been a focus for retailers and staff hoping to improve their category knowledge.

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Sarj Patel, Pasture Lane Stores, Loughborough
It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all the changes in customer education, legislation and illicit trading, especially when you have new staff who aren’t as educated about the category. They can learn a lot in just a simple half-hour session and they look more professional when speaking to customers. 

Kensitas Club: To help retailers tap into the trend for budget tobacco, JTI has relaunched Scottish brand Kensitas Club King Size and dropped its RRP from £10.65 to £7.65.

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Ferhan Ashiq, Day-Today Ashiqs, Prestonpans
I’m in an area where customers aren’t as affluent as those elsewhere and they value affordability more than anything else. Customers are definitely asking for the cheaper packs these days. They already have an expectation of what a packet of kingsize cigarettes will cost and having a lower RRP on these products helps maintain my overall tobacco sales.

John Player & Sons: Earlier this year, Imperial announced its first product developments since plain packaging was introduced. The updates to the John Player & Sons range includes stronger filters that emit less smoke. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Ken Singh, Mill Hill Stores, Pontefract
Plain-packaging and closed gantries have made it much harder to sell cigarettes over the past year and my sales have decreased. It helps to have products, such as John Player & Sons, that offer different features, as it can be easier to sell a packet of cigarettes if it has distinguishing or unique features.

Lambert & Butler: Imperial has been using store visits by reps to offer pricing advice about brands such as Lambert & Butler, ensuring retailers maximise their own sales, while helping out with other advice.  

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Martin Ward, Cowpen Lane News, Billingham
Customers in the past year have become more price-sensitive. I have rival stores, but illicit trade has increased, too. Whenever the Imperial reps come in, they advise me to stick to RRP on brands such as Lambert & Butler. Customers have an expectation about cigarette prices and I can’t afford to lose them by charging above RRP. 

Carlton: Plain packaging has increased the time it takes for some retailers to locate cigarettes in the gantry. Carlton-maker Imperial added special labelling to its gantries to help retailers reduce this time. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Anita Nye, Premier Eldred Drive Stores, Kent
Plain packaging means it can sometimes take me and my staff longer to find a brand customers want. This can lead to frustration during peak times, as my store can get quite packed. Clearer labelling on my gantry and displaying cigarette packs upside down has helped ease this.

Marlboro: One of the most recent developments Philip Morris International has made to the Marlboro range is a resealable pack designed to keep cigarettes fresher than traditional foil wraps. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Anish Parekh, Londis Broadoak & Post Office, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester
The most demand since the legislation was introduced has been for the more affordable brands. Customers can’t see the packaging of premium brands as clearly, which has caused demand to fall. I still keep premium cigarettes in stock, however, because there are customers who still want them. Having features like the resealable Marlboro packs can sometimes help persuade customers to trade up. 

Moments: Cigars benefit from the fact they can be sold in 10-packs, while also being exempt from certain branding restrictions. Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) is using this to its advantage and its marketing this year will be mainly focused on its Moments Panatella range. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Kay Patel, Best-one, East London
Miniature cigars are useful in helping minimise shrinking tobacco margins. We can sell them in packs of 10s and the packaging stands out when compared to traditional cigarettes. The margins we make on miniature cigars are 30% when sold at RRP and the investment made by companies such as STG to raise awareness and education in the convenience trade really helps. 

Royal Dutch: Ritmeester’s says miniature cigars have traditionally been products that are better known among tobacco enthusiasts. As a result, it is offering samples of its Royal Dutch range to retailers to increase awareness. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Hitesh Pandya, Toni’s News, Ramsgate
I find the curry socials Ritmeester holds with retailers and the trade press very useful. It’s a hands-on, but informal way of learning about the latest developments in the cigar market. There isn’t as much awareness about cigars as cigarettes. These opportunities give us a chance to learn about
how we can upsell to smokers who want value.

Rothmans: British American Tobacco (BAT) has taken steps to help retailers, who now cannot sell rolling tobacco weighing less than 30g. Its most recent product includes Rothmans Fine Tobacco in a resealable pouch at a £10.50 RRP. 

Living in a post-EUTPD II world…
Narinder Kaur, Premier Narinder’s Convenience, Huddersfield
Since the legislation came in, the demand for rolling tobacco has definitely outstripped demand for conventional cigarettes. Customers find they get more value because they’re getting more tobacco for their money. I find it’s also sometimes easier to raise awareness of rolling tobacco because filters and tips don’t have the same merchandising restrictions
as cigarettes.