Altria - NOT in Any Hurry to Expand Marlboro SNUS Distribution..

October 18, 2007 - Altria - NOT in Any Hurry to Expand Marlboro SNUS Distribution.A. Altria's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dinny Devitre when asked how long do you think you'll need with the Snus test in Dallas before you will have enough data points to make a decision whether to roll this out nationwide or not? I think it went into test market retail on August 8th (2007). And I really can't give you a time. I think we will just have to study this very carefully. It's a very, very important initiative and I am not in a position to give you either time or whether this is going to be a step-by-step extension of the test market. ( Altria Group Inc. (MO) Q3 2007 Earnings Call October 17, 2007 9:00 am ET) See related news briefs: July 6, 2007 and July 5, 2007. The test marketing of Taboka Tobaccopaks was one-year but Marlboro SNUS is a totally different brand. Most likely they're concerned that Marlboro SNUS won't fit the Marlboro mold. ( Retail market share for Marlboro cigarettes rose 0.5 points to a record 41.1%, compared with that of the third quarter of last year.) In July 2006 Philip Morris USA introduced Taboka, a smoke-free, spit-free tobacco pouch product, into test market in the Indianapolis area. According to PM they learned a lot from the Taboka test market and are applying those learnings to the Marlboro Snus test market. In a survey of retailers in the Indianapolis Area by analyst Christopher Growe of A.G. Edwards & Sons, it was found that the test for Taboka was going poorly and that retailers said sales were "soft with little need to restock inventory." A USA Today visit to a dozen convenience, tobacco and Wal-Mart stores in Indianapolis found Taboka widely available, often in dispensers displayed near Marlboro cigarettes and priced at $1.20 to $3.80 per pack. Retailers say consumers have shown little interest. Pat Bowman at The Tobacco Shop says, "I haven't sold any at all." He says even people who had coupons for free samples didn't want Taboka once they knew what it was. It looks like widespread use of SNUS will fail because it's culture-bound and highly resistant to migration. The Swedes first got hooked on tucking tobacco under their top lips in the 18th century. It is so much part of the national culture that the Swedish government negotiated an exemption from the prohibition of SNUS when it joined the EU. SNUS is spitless only if the pouch is kept in the same location throughout the sucking process any movement will cause more saliva secretion increasing the urge to spit ( - see related News Brief: July 15, 2007