Explores African-American smokers satisfaction/dissatisfaction with menthol cigarettes. Analyzes the sensory properties of menthol, describes the importance of perceived brand image and states "there is hardly any such phenomenon as "the Negro market," or a unified Negro market."
Paper based on ten East Coast interviews.
- Tibor Koeves Associates
- Behavior Targeting
Cigarette's effect of enhancing/mitigating specific behaviors
- Health effects
Design changes which have measurably altered health effects of cigarette smoke, both for smokers and nonsmokers.
- Measuring human smoking behavior
Measuring the effects of changes in human smoking behavior on intake of nicotine and smoke constituents.
- Product design targets (women/minorities)
Design changes targeting specific demographic segments such as women or minorities (slims/menthols/etc).
- Smoking psychology and behavior
- Use of additives
Modification of tobacco products through use of additives and measuring effects on dependence, behavior, and toxicity.
- Women Targeting
Cigarettes designed to target women
- Sensory targeting
Targeting of smokers through changes in sensory characteristics
- Brand switching
- Consumer acceptability (Consumer preference)
- Flavor/ Taste (Attribute measure)
- Impact (Throat grab)
- Inhalation (Smoke inhalation)
- Irritation (Attribute measure)
- Menthol delivery (Smoke menthol, menthol yield)
- Mildness (Attribute measure)
- Smoker behavior (Human smoking behavior)
Puff parameters, daily intake, etc.
- Smoking and Health Controversy
- Smoothness/Harshness (Attribute measure)
- Upper respiratory tract (Mouth, throat)
- Creme de Menthe
- Licorice (Licorice Fluid Extract, Powder, and Root)
- Smoke Constituent
- Named Organization
- Philip Morris Companies Inc. (Parent company of Philip Morris USA, Kraft, Miller)
America's seventh-largest industrial enterprise in 1993, owns Kraft, Miller Brewing, General Foods, and more.
- Tibor Koeves Associates
- Benson & Hedges Menthol
- Kool (BW (1933-2003)/RJR (2003-present))
First Menthol cigarette line, released in 1933. Premium priced brand.
- Newport (Lorillard)
- Salem (RJR)
- Effects—Smoking Behavior (Effects)
- Irritation (Effects)
- Licorice (Additives)
- Menthol (Additives)
- Sensory Effects—Taste (Effects)
- Smoothness/Harshness (Effects)
- Test/Consumer Preference (Testing)
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Philip Morris Inc.
Tibor Koeves Associates
Sag Harbory N.Y.
APILOT' LOCI: AT THE ATTITUDES OF
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THE ATTITUDES OF hTEGRQ S7:10itERS
T0:1:ARi 1PJE1q`THOL CIGARETTES
This exploratory look at the satisfactions
and dissatisfactions of Negro smokers
with menthol cigarettes is based on ten
depth interviews, five with male and five
with female respondents, conducted in New
York City, Eastern Long Island, rUami,
Fla. and Nov Orleans, La.
Brand habits were the follot>>ing:
Salem: 4; Kool: 2; Both Kool & Salem: 2;
Salem, Kool and rlecaport: 1; Benson &
Hed~es menthol: 1.
The analysis of our material is summed up
in the points which follov.
1. The pattorn of discovery of and conversion to
menthols appears to be the same as that of white smokers.
The three main motivating circumstances are again a
cold or a aore throat; accidental sampling; discomfort
caused by "hot" cigarettes.
2. It wou]a appear, ho;;ever, that wo.men tend to
play a greater role in that process than men. For one,
two out of the four married men 'in our sample "learned"
to smoke manthols from their wives. That in itself is
no evidence, of course, but in addition we find that
menthols are considered by the l.arge majority of our
people as mainly preferred by women. Eight out of ten
respondents feel that womon are more likely to smoke
rcenthols than men.
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3. Haaever, that view does not seem to reflect
negatively on rn3nthols. It does not "devalue" them
or make it less c:esirable to smoke by males. Nany
sociologists suggest that much of the -Negro sociaty
is a matriarchal ono. )
Samplin; of a menthol cigarette usually leads
to an immediate and enthusiastic conversion. Menthols
are promptly perceived as superiorly enjoyable cigarettes.
In our basic study for white smokers we submitted a.
list of 9 "gripes" to our sample and reported that sub-
stantial minorities had complaints on each scoiv. ften
we submitted the same list to our Negro respondentst
we found that 7 out of 10 had no grievance whatever and
1 out of 10 had only one grievance. (Iie was smoking
three packs a day and his only trouble was that by the
end of the day his cigarette tasted blah.)
5. The self-identification with menthols was so
strong that 6 out of our 10 smokers declared Negroes are
more likely to smoke them than white people, while two
said they were equally likely to smoke them and only
two said menthols are more likely to be smoked by white W
.6. All in all, the responses strongly indicated
that here was a product which by some virtue was especially
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suited to the needs, desires and tastes of Negro con-
sume rs .
7. :ti:hen we probod 'the underlying factors which
generAted the groat enthusiasm for menthol cigarettes,
Y le f ound that it vas based bothl on dynamic sensory and
on psychological gratifications.
8. Among the sensory satisfactions, the pleasure
of tasting menthol is the most dynamic, the dominant
one. According to our data, in fact, the menthol taste
and aroma in the mouth, the nose, the throat, the rvhole
menthol experience is an especially stitaulating and
onjoyable one for 9 out of 10 of our Nogro respondents.
A New Orleans beautician, a Salem-Kool smoker,
"I never smoked anythin; but menthols. Nos
out of the menthol I got the pleasure."
. . . ~
A Miami sanitation vrorker, who also smokes
Salems-and Kools was more explicit:
"It tastes good. It feels good in my nose,
and it tastos good goino do-.n. And it isntt
hot or burninU."
9. In half the cases the menthol smoL-o was
experienced as something substantial, almost a light
food. It'might be no oxnggeration-to say that quite a
few of our people were "eatin,~" the menthol. They were
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inhalinv slowly, and turned nround, almost "chev;ed" the
smoke, x'.,o of them said that menthol ciGarettos were
-candy to them. One said it was a clzewing gurL. Another
said it was his "cl4ssert" after a mesl.
10. Other types of associations with eating also
cropped up. One man and one woman statod, for instAnco,
that if they have no time for snack or a meal, they
light a menthol cigarette and it will ta1Le its place.
11. A final strong indication of the quasi-food
character of menthol cigarettes for most of our respon-
dents emerged vr.hen we asked them to tell us which one
of thtise two types of people: "those who like to eat
well, " and "those who aro on a diet," is more likely to
smoke regular cigarettes and' c,hich one is more likely
to smoke tnonthols. 7 out of 10 respondents sugZosted
that people who like to eat.well are more likely to
smoke aenthoZs than people who are on a diet.
12, ti:'hen we inquired into the type of food our
respondents usod, we found that 9 out of 10 preferred
and redularly ate highly soasoned, or even "ve ry hot"
food. It might be permitted to conjecture that a cool
menttiol cigarette is particularly soothing and enjoyable
after such hot dishes, that such-a fare tends to enhance
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both the taste and the cooling effect of the menthol.
(It v.'i 11 be remombered that many restaurants offer
p3ppcrMant cvndy to departind patrons.)
13 The points which precede make it quite clear
to what category or typo of- menthol smokers our Negro
respondento belong. In our basic study on attitudes
toward menthol cigarettes we offered a.typology consist-
ing of seven catogories. Te found that the majority of
the whito smo' ers tend to belong to Type 7 consisting
of those who prefer a "balanced brand," one v,hich lets
them oqually enjoy coolnes.i, menthol taste and tobacco
flavor instead of bain;; dominated by one of the elemsnts.
In eont-rast, the major3.ty of these Negro smo~rers belonb
to Type 4: they lool, for a predominance of menthol taste
combined with coolness. We also note that only one of
the ten complained about th© absence of a truly satis-
factory tobacco flavor.
An additional indication of the taste preferences
of our respondents came from the results of the new product
test. (On Page -52 of the basic study we presented the
results with white respondents. ) A comparison sho:rs
revenling, differenc-es bet:;reen the respective choices of
the two s a.mple s.
nlYienthorillo" whose description stressed a
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"strono mrcntho1 flavor" stimulated a rather weak
response among, the Yhites: 13% of them stated, they
would Certainly, and anot-hex 13;~ stated they would
Probably buy and amakc it. when It became available in
their comrxanity. In contrast, 3 out of. the 10 riogro
respondonts indicated that they would Corta3.nly and
another 2 out of 10 that they would Probably buy and
stno:.e this "new exgarette."
In aaimilar vefn, while the nggregate posi-
tive responses to Cremo do 2'enthe amounted to 49;
among the white3, this cigarette "with a. vory fine
peppormint taste" was able to temot 6 out of 10 ryegro
smoke rs .
On the other hand "Lims Air" with its "tnngy"
flavor was considerably less interesting to the Plegroes
than to the whites; the sfi21K3 Was true of Licorice as
v,el? . "Espresso," hc;-tever, (perhaps helped on by its
food associations) attracted 5 out of 10 of our people.
15. found that the whole psychological atmo-
sphere surrounding menthol cigarettes to the minds of
the people in our group is strongly positive and
16. To bcbin tivith, menthol cigarettes are per-
ceived as ziodern,,up to date, youthful. They are seen
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. ,. ,
as a very desirable advancement in the field of ciga-
rettes, a now departure quito in line of the necds and
preferences of he~roes.
17. It vae in that spirit that, ansvering one of
our queriog, 8 out of 10 respondents said that menthols
are more li1kel;y to be smoked by peoplc3 under 30 years
of ago than by people over 30 years of age. That one-
sided v3.ovt was voiced notvithstandin3 the fact that 6
. of our respondents were over 30 and only 4 under 30
years of ago.
18.' Thera are Indications that menthols tend to
be consid.ared as generA7ly. "bettor fo-- om Is health."
That Sriipre as f un rcfers not only to the he Ulth of tha
respiratory tract, but the whole or~-anisr.!. T49 majority
view is that menthols are "less atron;" than regular
cigarettes, and that a cigarette wnich* i3 "less strong"
is better for a person's hoalth.
Y.er6 is a typical expression of that feeling
shared by the lar6e ci4j ority of our sa-npl e:
"You see all the time how cir,erettos
ain't good for you but that if you slon~; ci~;a~~ettes and r.:enthol cigarettes smoke
they are not so stronz; and it' s be tter
than just p]a in tobacco without the
trenthol, so I guess that'3why so many
fol.,,s smoke the menthol ones these days."
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19. 11,1o .ment3.oned that menthols tend to be per-
ceived by the ma3ori:ty of our group as mainly smoked
by women. Ve wish to add that such a perception does
not make them an effeminate or a"sissien ci-arette.
Hcre is how that view is expressed by one of our
"Ii?y wife smokes menthols, and so do I.
I learned from her. Some of my friends
smoke menthols, some reSu].ars, I see no
difference among them. The only difference
is in those who don't smoke because they
are scared for their lives and: feared of
settinU cancor. They are ~~eaklings."
20. While the majority holds with above respondent
that there are no personality differences between the
smokers of monthols and those of regulars, a minority
i'eals that some significant differences do exist. These
are of the view that as a rule the smokers of menthols
tend to be gentler poople, more pleasant peopZe, and,
of course, that in comparison the smokers of regulars
. tend to be somewhat roushor individuals.
21. The re is a more general underlying impression
that the more tryorldly-erise, better informed or more
alert people are the ones who are likely to be smokers
' of menthols. Such impressions emanate not so much from
verbal statemnts than from the general tone and the
projective tests. Thus we asked our respondents to
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compare "people who like to read books" with "peop].e
who don't like to read" with reference to what they
are more likely to smoke, menthols or regulars. 7 out
of 10 opined that people who like to read books are
more likely to smoke menthols and people who dontt
like to read are more likely to sr,oke regulars.
22. To sum up in a simple statement a main con-
scious or unconscious view of the "personality" of the
menthol, cigarette as perceived by most of our respondents,
we fool it would be a very tenable working hypothesis
to postulate that for them menthols represent a more
"civilized" smoke than regulars.
23. 'ol:hen we tested the concept of new flavored'
cigarettes we found Ageneral and strono resistance
to them. That refusal of accept ing- new flavors was
mainly founded on the fear of losing their beloved
. menthol. reported previously that in considerino
specific new products, those which promised a heightened
menthol experience were found more than acceptable. )
24-. A similar conservatism was manifested with regard to colored ciS arette
paper. Responses were
defensive, more than anything else. Most of our respon-
argued that if new flavored cibarettes are put out,