C-store Update - Camel Dissolvable Sampler Packs, Skoal pouches, etc..

November 9, 2009

From Columbus, OH - one of the three test market sites for Camel Dissolvables. Free giveaways at convenience stores. Contacts description: It’s kind of a sampler pack. It has 3 Orbs Mellow, 3 Orbs Fresh, 2 Sticks and 4 Strips. It says that it’s free with any R.J. Reynolds Tobacco tobacco purchase, but this person picked it up the sampler pack and was looking at it and they said he could just have it. It comes with a coupon for a free dissolvables with tobacco purchase.

An image of the sampler pack should be here soon.

In the U.S. the best selling moist snuff is value priced/discount Grizzly Long Cut Wintergreen. Altria's U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (USST) is trying to take making share for Grizzly. UST's Skoal already had wintergreen but Copenhagen did not. So during the 4th quarter of 2009 long-cut wintergreen version of its Copenhagen premium will be released. Comments of Michael E. Szymanczyk , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria Group, Inc - I would point out to you that relative to Copenhagen Wintergreen, about 40% of the MST segment is Wintergreen and it's a growing segment and Copenhagen has no business in the Wintergreen segment. So it's a very appropriate expansion for Copenhagen. It should participate in that segment, and we believe we have an excellent product to put forth to the consumer, and we believe it's going to stimulate growth on Copenhagen and create a lot of interest for the brand, among adult MST users. (Altria Group q3 2009 Earnings Call Transcript - keypoints..) (Copenhagen Long Cut: Introduced in 1997 as the long cut version of the original Copenhagen brand.).

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Altria has been trying to tweak sales of Copenhagen and Skoal by bringing the price of these premium products more inline with discount Grizzly. We noticed in a grocery store they actually had Skoal pouches at $1.99 per can while Grizzly pouches were at $2.59. Pouches don't sell very well. Grizzly (the nations number one moist snuff brand) expanded its market share to 25.5 percent, up 2.2 percentage points in the second quarter 2009. Grizzly pouches (2-pouch styles, mint and straight), launched in the 1st quarter 2009 only accounted for 0.2 of a share point. (Reynolds American Inc. Q2 2009 Earnings..) Conwood makes Grizzly brands and operates as a subsidiary of Reynolds American, Inc.

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Skoal Pouches - $1.99..

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Grizzly Pouches - $2.59..

Just recently Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds boosted per-pack cigarette prices. Though the companies won't say why, analysts believe it is to cover new user fees charged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to pay for the costs of its new assignment to regulate tobacco. The boost was supposed to be 6-8 cents per pack but for the retailer to maintain profit margins the increase was much more. Let me explain using Marlboro.

The big change for the retailer was on the off-invoice payment for each carton of Marlboro sold. The payment to the retailer was for $4.00 has been reduced by PM to $1.50 per carton. So to make up the difference the retailer at this one c-store is adding 31 cents more to each pack of Marlboro. (I asked one owner what happens if you complain to the PM salesperson. His response - you don't complain - they know we have to have their tobacco products in the c-store.) The c-store accounts for at least 64% of tobacco sales. UBS tobacco analyst Nik Modi has noted that c-stores as a channel represent roughly 70% of all U.S. tobacco sales.

Reynolds, the nation’s second-biggest cigarette company, makes no secret of its reason for altering the packaging. Instead of using the terms "light," "low," and "mild" they now use different colors.

Take a look at this image with all the Marlboro cigarette packs.

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Various types of Marlboro Cigarettes - note the different colors.

Star Scientific sells smokeless lozenge type tobacco products: Ariva and Stonewall Hard snuff. Star has just come out with a blister pack (packaging in which a product is sealed between a cardboard backing and clear plastic cover) for Stonewall lozenges. Previous packaging..

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Stonewall Hard Snuff Packaging - front..

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Stonewall Hard Snuff Packaging - back..

L&M Bold Menthol is coming.. Philip Morris wants to boost its share of the market for menthol cigarettes, where it now has a 28 percent share (Newport’s share of the menthol market was 34.6% in the third quarter of ‘09), as opposed to more than 50 percent for the overall cigarette market. PM's Szymanczyk has said the company will launch an L&M Bold Menthol this year to boost its offerings in the "full-flavor" menthol sector, the one area where he said the company does not think it has a strong position. Blend No. 54 is also described as a "bold" flavor, which smokers describe as offering a particularly strong tobacco taste.

L&M is one of the top five international brands and gaining in popularity in the states.

Previous c-store update..