Slim cigarettes & pack shape

Slim cigarettes are one of the fastest growing segments of the international cigarette market. For the first, several countries have begun to restrict the shape and size of cigarettes. In 2013, Australia implemented regulations that require minimum pack sizes to allow sufficient space to display mandated health warnings. The revised European Union Tobacco Product Directive also includes regulations that will prohibit “lipstick” cigarette packs.

video icon 3 Watch a summary of recent work slim cigarettes


Discrete choice experiment
Cigarette packaging is the most prominent form of tobacco promotion in Canada, and some design features are targeted to the female market, such as “slim” and “super slim” pack sizes. The current study examined the relative importance of five cigarette packaging attributes—pack structure (e.g., “slims”), brand, branding, warning label size, and price—on perceptions of product taste, harm, and interest in trying, among young females in Canada.

A discrete choice experiment was conducted with smoking and non-smoking females, aged 16 to 24 (N=448).  Respondents were shown 10 choice sets, each containing 4 packs containing different combinations of the attributes: pack structure (slim, lipstick, booklet, traditional); brand ( ‘Vogue’, ‘du Maurier’); branding (branded, plain); warning label size (50%, 75%); and price ($8.45, $10.45). For each choice set, respondents chose the brand that they:  1) would rather try, 2) would taste better, 3) would be less harmful, or “none”.  For each outcome, the attributes’ impact on consumer choice was analyzed using a multinomial logit model.

Females weighted pack structure most important to their intention to try (46%), judgment of product taste (52%), and judgment of product harm (48%). Price and branding were weighted important to trial intent (23% and 18%, respectively) and product taste (29% and 15%, respectively).  Whereas warning label size and brand were weighted important when judging product harm (23% and 17%, respectively). Overall, the findings suggest that standardized cigarette packaging may decrease demand and reduce misleading perceptions about product harm among young females.


Review of tobacco company document on pack size
Tobacco company documents represent a rich source of evidence on tobacco marketing and promotion. Millions of internal documents have been released through legal proceedings. We recently review tobacco industry documents on cigarette pack shape, size and openings to identify industry findings on associations with brand imagery, product attributes, consumer perceptions and behaviour.

Industry research consistently found that packs that deviated from the traditional flip-top box projected impressions of ‘modern’, ‘elegant’ and ‘unique’ brand imagery. Alternative pack shape and openings were identified as an effective means to communicate product attributes, particularly with regard to premium quality and smooth taste. Consumer studies consistently found that pack shape, size and opening style influenced perceptions of reduced product harm, and were often used to communicate a ‘lighter’ product. Slim, rounded, oval and booklet packs were found to be particularly appealing among young adults, and several studies demonstrated increased purchase interest for tobacco products presented in novel packaging shape or opening. Evidence from consumer tracking reports and company presentations indicate that pack innovations in shape or opening method increased market share of brands.

Overall, consumer research by the tobacco industry between 1973 and 2002 found that variations in packaging shape, size and opening method could influence brand appeal and risk perceptions and increase cigarette sales
Read the full paper here→


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