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Does The Market Really Need A Marlboro Ecig?

By Tyler McCanus

Monday February 8, 2016
is the marlboro man switching to vaping

Ever since Big Tobacco had seemingly embraced the electronic cigarette movement, we’ve been waiting for a Marlboro ecig to hit the vapor market. It only makes sense, given that the Marlboro brand is such a dominant force in the traditional tobacco cigarette market. How dominant is it? The Marlboro brand was valued last year at $80 billion. It accounts for 44% of the market share in the U.S., which is more than the next 10 brands combined. So, yea, one could reasonably say that a Marlboro ecig would have a big leg up as far as branding and marketing.

Yet people are still searching for what the closest ecig to Malboro lights is instead of picking up a Marlboro ecig at their local convenience store. It doesn’t exist yet and it makes us wonder why that’s the case. In the early days of the electronic cigarette revolution, Big Tobacco was simply against the idea of vaping entirely. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. At first they didn’t care, because they didn’t see any threat to their profit margins. For whatever reasons, they just couldn’t see the potential that this new product had to be a disruptive force.

Of course, they were wrong. But the first thing they did wasn’t to go and create a Marlboro ecig or a Camel ecig. No, it was to fight this new industry tooth and nail to snuff it out of existence. Thankfully, they lost that battle even with the huge war chest of money and lobbying power. Now ecigs have taken a share of their profits and people do go looking for the closest ecig to Malrboro lights. That’s played a part in the decline of cigarette sales volumes, causing Marlboro’s parent company Altria to miss their profit expectations for the last quarter of 2015. Surely that’s a cause of concern, but still no Marlboro ecig brand has emerged.

Marlboro Ecig By A Different Name

Marlboro Ecig iQOS DeviceThat actually isn’t entirely accurate either, because although the Marlboro ecig brand name doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean they haven’t entered the market. In fact, Altria has done so in a few different ways.

One way was with the Marlboro Heatsticks product that we wrote about a long time ago. This product isn’t exactly an electronic cigarette as we know it, but it is aimed at what is called the “reduced risk” category. Or at least that is how Altria would like to have it classified.

The idea is that the Marlboro Heatsticks product, also called iQOS, takes real tobacco and heats it until a vapor is formed, instead of burning it. The advantage to that, as we have noted in the past here, is that it takes away the most dangerous aspect of traditional tobacco cigarette smoking. It’s the burning of tobacco that is the main instigator of carcinogens and so it is natural to try to avoid that.

The problem is that they may not being doing that anyway. A researcher at Imperial Tobacco has found some of the same processes being created in the Marlboro Heatsticks that are found in traditional tobacco cigarettes. It seems that far from being a Marlboro ecig, it may not help smokers much at all. This would leave them still searching for the closest ecig to Marlboro lights or any other brand they smoke.

Closest Ecig To Marlboro Lights

Closest-Ecig-To-Marlboro-LightsThe other attempt to create the closest ecig to Marlboro lights is that of Altria’s own electronic cigarette, the MarkTen. The MarkTen was released over a year ago and was marketed as an e-vapor device. In actuality, it was more or less the Marlboro ecig. Or at least it was the closest thing they could muster at the time, as the other Big Tobacco companies were already selling Blu and Vuse. Altria needed something fast to compete, and so MarkTen was born.

But after pushing it into a convenience stores nationwide and offering plenty of free samples to smokers, it hasn’t exactly caught on. It’s not a terrible product, but it wasn’t really bringing anything new to the conversation.

Maybe if it really was called the Marlboro ecig then it would have caught on. It would give millions of smokers who were looking to make the switch to vapor a clear and easy decision. If you smoked Marlboro cigarettes before, you should try the Marlboro ecig. It would be the closest ecig to Marlboro lights by brand standing alone.

That wasn’t the route that was taken, however. Maybe they didn’t want to sully the Marlboro name with a product that wasn’t guaranteed to be a big seller. Maybe they’re still reserving that name for a future product. Whatever be the reason, the market hasn’t yet received that Marlboro ecig to buy. Maybe it never will. Yet maybe it doesn’t actually need that.

The premise that smokers need to have a Marlboro ecig as an option might just be a flawed one. Especially when there are better ecigs already on the market. They may not have built that brand name yet, but they are on their way. Most importantly, they provide more satisfaction and are a better value. Smokers who have decided to make the switch may just want to get as far away from what they used to know as possible. In that sense, an ecig with the Marlboro name could push them away.

The truth is that we can’t know for sure. For now there isn’t a Marlboro ecig and it doesn’t seem to bother the millions of people who have already made the switch to vapor. With so many good options out there, smokers can start looking forward to a future without the products they used to rely on, and that’s just a good thing period.





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