Heat-not-burn will be one of the major opportunities of 2020 after menthol cigarettes are removed from shelves in May.
This is the prediction of Philip Morris’s UK managing director Peter Nixon who announced that a new website will aim to widen distribution of IQOS and help offset the disappearance of the £2bn menthol cigarettes market. “On 20 May there will be 1.3million menthol smokers who, if they walk into any store and ask for a menthol product, are going to be told: “I can’t sell you it, I don’t have it”,” Mr Nixon said: “That’s why we’re now giving retailers the option of selling these customers IQOS”.
The site, menthol-ban-retail.co.uk, will allow stores to register their interest in IQOS and buy products direct from Philip Morris. A team of reps is also poised to assist retailers. Since the UK launch of IQOS in 2016, distribution has been focused mainly on online sales and a small number (currently 13) of its own flagship stores in major cities. Peter Nixon says that these IQOS-branded stores should not be seen as competitors for retailers: “what we’re doing is to increase the footprint across each city,” he says.
While the heat-not-burn market lags behind traditional vaping sales in the UK, Mr Nixon says it now represents 70% of the £18bn global harmreduction market. He predicts similar success in the UK in the coming years: “Awareness is still low but, when we show smokers the product, 51% say they would definitely buy versus 20% who say they would buy vaping products.”
Read our full interview with Peter Nixon on vapebusiness.biz soon.