Uphill Battle in Teaching Smokers to Use SNUS..

November 26, 2007 - UST has long pursued a strategy focused on getting smokers to put down their cigarettes and make a permanent switch to smokeless or use these products in places such as the office, a hotel room, or a restaurant where smoking is forbidden. But UST’s experience shows that Altria Group's Philip Morris and Reynolds will have an uphill battle in teaching smokers to use snus. UST has had a Swedish-style product known as Revel (2001) in test markets for several years, but has yet to broaden its distribution nationally. Last year, UST introduced Skoal Dry, another Swedish-style, pouch product. Its launch was partly born out of frustration over the difficulties associated with creating brand awareness for a product given the restrictions on marketing tobacco products. Even with the more recognizable brand, its been difficult. “This is a long, slow build,” said Dan Butler, president of UST’s U.S. Smokeless Tobacco unit. “You are changing consumer behavior.” Butler said he welcomes the competition from Marlboro Snus and Camel Snus because it will help to raise awareness. Unlike its rivals, Camel Snus is refrigerated until it is sold. All three companies have been trying to spread the word about the new products through Web sites dedicated to the products and direct mail campaigns targeted to their extensive databases of smokers. Although both Marlboro and Camel are well-known brands, Philip Morris clearly has the numbers on its side. Close to half of all U.S. smokers, smoke Marlboros, while only about 7% of U.S. smokers puff on a Camel. Reynolds is taking its marketing of Camel Snus a few steps further. The Winston-Salem, N.C.