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RJ Reynolds

Why People Smoke/Don't Smoke Menthol Cigarettes.

Date: 16 Apr 1973
Length: 4 pages
500437174-500437177
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Fields

Type
LETTER
Alias
MRD73 0131
Attachment
7148 -7187
Named Person
F, A.L.
Copied
Unk
Sherrill, J.H.
Blevins, R.
Haller, T.P.
Recipient
Johnston, A.H.
Unk
Date Loaded
27 Feb 1998
Request
Minnesota
1rfp4
Author
Hall, L.W. Jr
Box
Rjr2999
Site
Mdd
Mdic
Brand
Kool
Salem

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Page 1: ffp79d00
~!f'~f stpi ~ CONFIDENTIAL April 16, 1973 . Mr. A. H. Johnston Re: WHY PEOPLE SMOKE/DON'T SMOKE MENTHOL CIGARETTES (MRD# 73-0131) Al, the purpose of this memo is to review with you what research we have done suggests are the reasons people smoke or don't smoke menthol cigarettes. While most of us in the marketing end of the cigarette business probably have a good appreciation for this, a periodic reexamination of the positive and negative appeals of'f menthols should be helpful in the ongoing evaluation of current copy strategies and perhaps provide new advertising directions. First, let's consider why people smoke menthols. Recently, in conjunction with SALEM product quality research (part of the "What Sells Cigarettes" Project) we asked•SALLM and Kool smokers what they liked most about their usual brands. In my judgment, the answers to this question provide considerable insight into the whys of menthol smoking, even though that question was not asked specifically. There were actually only minor differences between the answers 'given by SALEM and Kool.smokers (SALEM smokers were a little more "mildness" conscious than Kool smokers) which suggests that both groups smoke menthols for similar basic reasons. Because of this and because SALEM and Kool smokers.represent the lion's share of menthol smokers, I combined the answers of the two groups for the purpose of this examination. In very general terms, it appears that people smoke menthols because they like menthol or menthol taste which, to them, is mild and cool and, as such, provides a pleasant smoking experience without causing any unpleasant reactions in one's mouth or throat. It should be more helpful to you, however, to examine this infor- mation in more specific terms. First, here are the most frequently mentioned comments made by SALEM and Kool smokers about what they liked most about their brands listed in rank order. (Each comment represents 10% or more of the total smokers.) 1. No unpleasant reaction in throat/mouth 2. Good menthol/menthol taste, 3. Mild menthol/menthol taste 4. Cool/not hot menthol/menthol taste 5. Cool/not hot taste 6. Mild cigarette .a'. ~
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Mr. A. H. Johnston Page Two April 16, 1973 6. Mild cigarette 7. Satisfying/soothing/relaxing 8. Smooth/not harsh cigarette 9. Cool/not hot cigarette A second way to look at these comments is in terms of the references made to 'specific product attributes. Again in rank order, here are the product attributes referred by SALEM and Kool smokers in telling what they liked most about their brands, as well as the most frequently mentioned terms they used to describe those attributes.. 1. Menthol/Menthol Taste References - Described primarily as "good," "mi d," and 'coo :_f~~ 2. 'General Ci arette References - Described mainly in terms of "no unpleasant reaction in t roat/mouth, ""mild, ""-satisfying/ soothing/relaxing," "smooth/not harsh," and "cool/not hot.` 3. General Taste References - "Coolness," "smoothness," "mild- ness," and "goodness" were the predominant descriptive terms. 4. Tobacco Taste References - Very few made, but "mild" was most frequent. 5. Aftertaste References - "No bad.aftertaste" got some mention. Finally, let's turn the foregoing around by putting the emphasis on the descriptive terms, noting the attributes described most frequently by those terms. Here they are ranked according to` frequency. . 1. "Mild/Not Strong" - Used most often in referring to menthol/. menthol taste -and to•the cigarette in general. 2. "Cool/Not Hot" - Used at about the same frequency -to describe menthol/menthol taste and taste in general. 3. "Good" - Menthol/menthol taste was the primary recipient of this description. 4. "Smooth/Not Harsh" - Used primarily in reference to the cigarette in general. 5. "No Un leasant Reaction" - Refers to the absence of unpleasant reactions sensations in the throat/mouth.
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Mr. A. H. Johnston Page Three April 16, 1973 6. "Fresh/Refreshing" - Used mostly to describe the menthol taste and the cigarette in general. 7. "Satisfying" - Refers to the cigarette in general. 8. "Right Amount" - Used almost totally in connection with menthol taste. 9. "Strength" - "Strong" comments were few, but used.most often when describing menthol taste. A1, before moving on to the question of why•people don't smoke menthols, let's consider a question I think is raised by the preceeding discussion on why they do. You have no doubt noted that the term "fresh/refreshing," at least on the surface, does not appear to be a major reason.people smoke menthols. Since, historically, SALEM's basic advertising strategy has been and continues to be to convince smokers that SALEM is the most re- freshing cigarette available, one might wonder if -perhaps a- seemingly more relevant strategy might be.more f ruitful. On the other hand, it might be argued that while most smokers may not mention the word "refreshing" per se, the words they do use are embodied in the connotations of refreshing. Additional arguments for continued emphasis of:this:pro.duct benef.it_are that SALEM's success was built on it and we have a substantial advertising equity in the term. Al, I would be interested in your thoughts on this subject. This seems to be an area_.in which additional research is needed. Now let's consider the,reasons,people don't smoke menthols, the idea being, of course, that such inhibitions might be overcome with appropriate advertising copy. To gain some insight into this area, I reviewed what non-menthol smokers.said they disliked about SALEM and Kool in response to attitudinal questioning on those brands in the most recent SALEM and Kool campaign communi- catior. studies. • In a nutshell, non-menthol smokers.simply don't like the taste of menthols, and many.claim that menthols give them an unpleasant reaction in their throat. In my judgment, reservations about menthols such as these might be difficult to overcome with adver- tising. A more fruitful course of action would seem to be the one we are taking with our SALEM two-color, "all copy" newspaper advertising which addresses itself to the "problems" some non- menthol smokers appear to have-with their usual brands. As you know, this action was taken as a result of research we-did last year in which we asked non-menthol smokers to -speculate on possible reasons they might have'for eventually switching to a menthol.
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Mr. A. H. Johnston Page Four April 16, 1973 Al, hopefully this review has given you a greater appreciation of the positive and negative appeals of menthol cigarettes and will be useful to you in your work on SALEM's copy strategy. Should you be interested in considering the foregoing discussion in greater detail, I've attached tables showing the data on which my analysis was based. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything clarified. Additionally, we are doing other research in this area Which approaches the issue in a more direct manner. We will keep you informed on what we learn from this. L. W. Hall, 3"r. Marketing Research Department LWH:gj Attachments cc: Mr. R. A. Blevins, Jr. Mr. T. P. Haller Mr. J. H..Sherrill, Jr.

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