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    Me and My Brand: Ross Hennessy of JTI

    Ross Hennessy

    Can you please give an overview of your brand?  

    JTI manufactures well-known cigarette brands such as Benson & Hedges Blue, the UK’s No.1 cigarette brand1, as well as Amber Leaf, the No.1 tobacco brand2, Sterling Dual Capsule Leaf Wrapped, the No.1 cigarillo brand3, and Sterling Rolling Tobacco, the leading Value RYO brand4. JTI also offers a wide range of next-gen products including the heated tobacco device, Ploom, with EVO tobacco sticks, and the 100 per cent tobacco-free nicotine pouch, Nordic Spirit, which is the UK’s No.1 nicotine pouch brand in the convenience channel5.

    How is your brand currently performing?

    JTI is currently the No.1 tobacco manufacturer in the UK with a combined market share of 44.7 per cent6. We are also a frontrunner in the next-gen nicotine category. Nordic Spirit has a 65.3 per cent market share in the convenience channel7 and is worth £15.8 million a year8. Our heated tobacco device, Ploom, has also gone from strength to strength since its launch and we’re constantly updating our range of flavoured EVO tobacco sticks to keep up with consumer trends.

    Me and My Brand: Ross Hennessy of JTI

    How is the tobacco market currently performing?

    Currently worth £15.6 billion in the UK9, the tobacco market is a major profit driver, remaining an important category for many retailers, but it is now equally important to offer alternatives such as the new and emerging heated tobacco products and 100 per cent tobacco-free nicotine pouches. For example, the Heated Tobacco category is now worth nearly £2 million a week in traditional retail10, highlighting a real opportunity for retailers this year and beyond.

    What new products are JTI launching?

    JTI reimagined its EVO tobacco sticks at the end of 2021, featuring a longer filter to achieve a smoother, real tobacco taste – the upgraded sticks provide an enhanced experience from start to finish. The new and improved EVO tobacco sticks, which have an RRP of £4.50, offer a variety of flavours ranging from tobacco, for true tobacco enthusiasts, to menthol and fruit-based flavours for a more refreshing taste sensation.

    JTI has also launched two new alternative variants with capsules: Green Option and Purple Option. These new flavours allow the consumer to discover a new taste sensation with flavoured capsules. Both are well-balanced and offer smooth tobacco flavours, with a subtle mint infusion that releases a burst of flavour when the capsule is crushed.

    Me and My Brand: Ross Hennessy of JTI

    JTI also expanded its Nordic Spirit range in February, with a new flavour, Spearmint, and a new Extra-Strong variant of its popular Bergamot Wildberry fruit flavour. With Strong and Extra-Strong now making up 77.1 per cent of nicotine pouch sales, and Extra-Strong the fastest growing strength11, the latest variants will help retailers provide a range of options for consumers seeking a stronger nicotine experience.

    What else is new for JTI in 2022?  

    We are always looking at ways we can innovate to help us continue delivering world class service to all of our trade partners. For this reason, we’ve recently transitioned our award-winning salesforce into JTI Business Advisors – the biggest change we have made as a business in 20 years.

    Our salesforce has always operated at an industry high level, but we have taken the time to upskill our JTI Business Advisers to a superior standard. They are now total category experts. Whether it’s advice on what JTI products to stock across tobacco, vaping and next-gen products to maximise sales, information on responsible retailing such as Youth Access Prevention and how to tackle illicit tobacco, or sustainability – they are on hand to assist trade partners every step of the way.

    How are you supporting retailer partners? 

    Our retail partners are hugely important to JTI, and we owe it to them to provide the best level of support and service that we can offer, so our JTI Business Advisers have been allocated smaller, dedicated catchment areas, where they will be able to offer bespoke advice to retail partners. The evolution will enable us to increase our speed, agility, and efficiency in the field.

    Mid-to long-term corporate and market strategy.

    What trends are occurring in the sector?

    Within traditional tobacco, we’re seeing increased sales within the value category as existing adult smokers seek good quality tobacco at an affordable price12. Within the RYO category for example, Value RYO is the leading sector with a 53.6 per cent share13, so retailers should stock up on products such as Sterling, the No. 1 Value RYO brand14.

    In the next-gen category, customers are looking for a range of strengths and flavours, in particular menthol. In fact, sales of menthol-flavoured heated tobacco variants have grown by 38 per cent in the past 12 months in Traditional Retail15.

    Describe your brand in three words …

    Innovative, supportive, knowledgeable.


     

    1 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total RMC, Total UK March 2022

    2  IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total RYO/MYO, Total UK March 2022

    3 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total Cigarillo Category, Total UK, March 2022

    4 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total RYO/MYO, Total UK, March 2022

    5 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Nicotine Pouch Category, Total UK, Q1 22. For more information or to verify comparison contact Nordic Spirit on Facebook or Instagram: @nordicspirit_uk or using our details at nordicspirit.co.uk/contact

    6 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total Tobacco Category, Total UK, March 2022

    7 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Nicotine Pouch Category, Total UK, Q4 21. For more information or to verify comparison contact Nordic Spirit on Facebook or Instagram: @nordicspirit_uk or using our details at nordicspirit.co.uk/contact

    8 IRi Market Place, Value Sales, Nordic Spirit, Total UK, Dec 2021 [ii] IRi Market Place, Value Sales, Nordic Spirit, Total UK, Annualised Figure Based on Dec 2021

    9 IRi Market Place, Value Sales, Total Tobacco Category, Total UK, MAT To 10/04/22

    10 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total Cigarillo Category, Total UK, Jan 2022

    11 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Nicotine Pouch Category, Total UK, Q1 22 vs. Q4 21. For more information or to verify comparison contact Nordic Spirit on Facebook or Instagram: @nordicspirit_uk or using our details at nordicspirit.co.uk/contact

    12 IRi Market Place, Value Sales, Total RYO/MYO, Total UK, MAT To 02/01/22 vs. MAT To 03/01/21 (Increase in Sales Value)

    13 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total RYO/MYO, Total UK, Dec 2021

    14 IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total RYO/MYO, Total UK, March 2022

    15 IRI Market Place, Unit Sales, Total T-Vapour Category, Total UK, Jan 2022 vs Jan 2021

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