Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Cigar Products in the United States

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Abstract

Introduction:

Although cigar use and sales have increased in the United States over the past decade, little is known about how these products are promoted. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is a common method used to promote tobacco products and may be a potential channel through which cigars are advertised.

Methods:

Comperemedia (Mintel) was used to acquire opt-in direct mail and email advertising for the top 10 cigar brands in the United States between January 2013 and July 2014. The advertisement and corresponding data on brand, advertising spend, and mail volume were downloaded and summarized. Promotions such as coupons, giveaways, and sweepstakes were also examined.

Results:

A total of 92 unique advertisements met the search criteria and included two brands: Black & Mild (n = 77) and Swisher Sweets (n = 15). Expenditures on direct mail advertising during this period totaled $12 809 630. Black & Mild encompassed 80% of total direct mail volume and 78% of direct mail advertising expenditures. Almost all advertisements contained at least one promotion (88%) and included a URL to the product website (85%).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that Black & Mild and Swisher Sweets are the primary cigar brands using DTC advertising. Promotional offers were nearly ubiquitous among the advertisements, which may appeal to price-sensitive populations. Future studies should continue to examine cigar advertising via direct mail and email, in addition to other channels, such as the point-of-sale.

Implications:

Although cigar use and sales have increased in the United States over the past decade, there is limited data on cigar advertising. This article provides a snapshot of expenditures, volume, and promotional content of DTC cigar advertising in the United States between January 2013 and July 2014.

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