After gambling on Snus and losing, Big Tobacco companies have banded together to cooperate in the area of ecig research. Altria and Philip Morris have entered into a cooperative arrangement to invest in ecig research in order to find the best way to capitalize on a quickly growing industry.
Altria and Philip Morris originally split off from each other seven years ago. Both companies became involved in smoking alternatives including electronic cigarettes but they have both also pursued other avenues.
In 2009, Philip Morris partnered with Swedish Match to market Snus, a dry, powdered tobacco product originated from Sweden. After several years, it became apparent that the Snus market was limited. Philip Morris had anticipated that Snus would become a fast growing market like electronic cigarettes. That did not happen.
Philip Morris will continue to use their distribution chain to sell Snus in Canada and Russia but for all intents and purposes the tobacco giant has determined that Snus are never going to challenge ecigs.
While electronic cigarettes have continued to grow, other smoking alternatives have fallen by the wayside. The reason is simple. Electronic cigarettes mimic smoking and satisfy smokers. But have Philip Morris and Altria learned anything from the failure? Perhaps not.
Under this new agreement to cooperate on ecig research, bot companies have committed to promoting heated tobacco products like Marlboro’s HeatSticks. The idea is to vaporize but not burn tobacco. While the product has potential on paper, competing with electronic cigarettes is not going to be easy. Electronic cigarettes offer consumers a versatility that a product that heats tobacco cannot match.
Snus Failure Leads To More Big Tobacco Ecig Research
The two companies have set up an arrangement where they will cooperate on developing improvements and research of ecigarettes. They also agreed to cooperate on “engaging regulators” or in other words, lobbying.
At some point, Big Tobacco is bound to notice that the ecigarette industry is moving away from basic cigalike models and moving toward more advanced evapor products. Will this arrangement result in Big Tobacco developing ecig tank systems? Only time will tell.
One other possibility could be hidden in the agreement to engage regulators. Big Tobacco has been lobbying to ban ecig tank systems and online sales. Should they be successful, the evapor industry would essentially be reduced to Big Tobacco cigalikes sold in the same places where consumers currently buy cigarettes.
The fact is that more and more scientists are finally realizing the potential of electronic cigarettes to combat tobacco harm. As more legitimate ecig research is completed, that fact becomes ever more clear. Altria and Philip Morris are aware of this and are working toward advancing their evapor market share.
In the meantime, Both companies will work together to promote their existing smoking alternatives. Altria will continue to sell Mark Ten in the US and Philip Morris will sell the Mark Ten in Spain under the name “Solaris”.
It’s an interesting arrangement. If they do invest in ecig research there is no doubt that new products will emerge. Will they try to derive more HeatStick or Snus type products to attempt to divert people away from vaping, or will they go all in on evapor?