Kool Isn't Getting the Starters/236
In this 1987 memo, a Brown & Williamson (BW) employee laments that KOOL cigarettes are "no longer attracting new smokers." He explains how to design a cigarette that would be more successful in attracting "starters" to "correct this problem." The author then ties the "problem" to the fact that the menthol level in KOOL cigarettes had been increased in 1985, which inadvertently made the product unappealing to starters:
"Basically, [the problem] is that KOOL's menthol level is too high for starters...Franchise [established] smokers prefer a product providing a greater menthol taste than do starters..."
The writer suggests solutions:
"...[A] more logical approach is to: 1) promote KOOL MILDS as the starter brand, ...2) Line-extend the KOOL family with a product having...lower menthol...specifically to attract new smokers..."
On Page 3, the writer explains how to make the product appealing to new smokers:
"Menthol brands have been said to be good starter products because new smokers appear to know that menthol covers up some of the tobacco taste and they already know what menthol tastes like, vis-a-vis candy."
This document shows B&W's intent to design a cigarette specifically to appeal to "starters," despite the tobacco industry's insistence that its intent is not to recruit new smokers, but simply to get established smokers to switch brands.
This memo addresses the fact that KOOL is no longer attracting new smokers (further referred to as "starters"), a product-related reason which possibly explains this position, and suggestions to correct this problem.
Switching data (waves 32-40, attached) clearly show that KOOL KS and 100 are not attracting their fair share of starters. Newport, on the other hand, is performing above its fair share. Besides the differences in packaging and marketing between KOOL and Newport, one basic product difference exists which can possibly explain part of the reason for KOOL's disparity among starters. Basically, it is that KOOL's menthol level is too high for starters...
The dilemma is that KOOL can't satisfy the needs of both starters and current franchise. Franchise smokers prefer a product providing greater menthol taste than do starters. This paradox isn't easily corrected by just changing KOOL's menthol level, due to the significant risk of losing franchise smokers. Thus, a more logical approach is to:
l. promote KOOL MILDS as the starter brand,
2. line extend the KOOL family with a produce having...a lower menthol loading...specifically to attract new smokers, or
3. introduce a free standing product having the same product description as in (2) above.
In summary, we can't reduce the menthol level of KOOL KS/1O0 to an acceptable level for starters without risking a catastrophic loss among our franchise. Thus, to regain starters, we must establish another product source.
[From Page 3]:
From a product recipe standpoint, I can understand why possibly KOOL KS and 100s are no longer considered to be acceptable starter products. First, let's consider which smoking attributes are important to a beginning smoker. Based on my own initial smoking experiences and comments from other smokers about their early smoking experiences, the attributes are:
1. low tobacco taste (this is an acquired taste with use),
2. low impact and irritation (a strong smoke is intolerable),
3. low tobacco aftertaste (heavy, dirty taste is intolerable), and
4. if it's a menthol product, it should have a low amount.
Menthol brands have been said to be good starter products because new smokers appear to know that menthol covers up some of the tobacco taste and they already know what menthol tastes like, vis-a-vis candy. The level of menthol in the product is, however, critical. A product having a moderate to high menthol taste will usually be rejected by starters, while the same level will be quite acceptable to established menthol smokers. Indeed, this is the dilemma which KOOL KS and 100s face today.
In August 1985 we inadvertently made the situation even worse for starters by increasing the menthol level of KOOL KS and 100s...
Title Kool Isn't Getting The Starters/236.
Author Cantrell, D; Brown & Williamson
Date 19870217 (February 17, 1987)
Type Memo, correspondence
Collection Brown & Williamson
Related SourceWatch resources
- Tobacco industry marketing aimed at youth
- Tobacco Industry Youth Smoking Prevention Programs