Imperial Brands, China Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco or the five leading brands that comprise ‘Big Tobacco’ are on the path to unprecedented growth. New internet marketing mantras are guiding these companies and propelling them to greater success in developing markets.
Of course, the focus is on promoting tobacco as a safe product, whether it is Philip Morris International or British American Tobacco. In fact, transforming tobacco into a safer and more popular product is the focus of these cigarette brands. Social networks are being used to promote brands around the world. With countries like the US banning tobacco commercials on TV and radio, the focus is now on online marketing. The level of innovation of online, internet marketing networks is simply amazing and there are incredible campaigns out there.
- Building An Influencer Base
Brand advocates and micro-influencers can connect young smokers to tobacco brands through social media posts on Facebook and Instagram. Philip Morris International, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International are even targeting emerging markets with social media marketing because of the wide reach it provides. Consider that over 123 hashtags associated with Big Tobacco’s products have been viewed 8.8 billion times in the US and 25 billion times worldwide and you’ll realise why internet marketing is essential for these cigarette brands. The companies also have public opinion formers who post social media content about promotional events.
Posts use hashtags closely connected to brands, such as #likeus for Lucky Strikes, Malboro’s #RedisHere and #YouDecide and Winston’s #FreedomMusic. Hashtags also promote parties and events where cigarettes are promoted and special gift packs are delivered. Some themes presented in several countries were British American Tobacco’s Dunhill and Kent brands linked #TasteTheCity and Philip Morris International’s #Newland and #IdecideTo/#YouDecide. Over 200 developing markets are targeted using internet marketing tools and techniques.
Cigarette brands use social media, working with bloggers and brand ambassadors for posting unbranded content.
- Evolution of Big Tobacco Brands
The cigar, tobacco and cigarette industry has exploded and cigarette sales are booming, in compliance with restrictions. Additionally, marketing products like tobacco require greater interaction and creativity with influencers. Tobacco is a lifestyle product and customers keep coming back for more because online marketers give them the incentives to return.
Given that a majority of the cigarette smokers and tobacco customers are millennials under 35 in developing countries, the audience is also tech-savvy and digitally advanced. To reach such an audience, conventional advertising tools and techniques are no longer applicable. Pathwwway Ltd affordable automation platforms need to be in place to manage text messages or push notification type marketing.
- Boosting Online Presence
For big tobacco brands looking to make their presence in developing economies, investing in internet marketing makes sense. This is because the rate of internet usage is rapidly increasing as the demographic dividend pays off for cigarette brands in emerging economies.
Additionally, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram attract millions of users from developing markets like India and China. To meet the needs of these social media-savvy users, brands need to think in terms of online marketing. Free social media platforms even play the role of mini websites as content and pictures can easily be shared. Influencers and individual websites also promote tobacco brands and help the top players like China Tobacco to cash in on domestic markets that are booming, too.
- The Power of Organic Marketing
Big Tobacco is facing challenges from emerging and local brands in developing countries, and so they have to be creative when it comes to building organic traffic and directing leads to landing pages. Word-of-mouth marketing offers value. Brands also tap SEO, blogs, infographics and articles for content marketing and social media marketing like Tumblr or Pinterest. Upgrading the collateral game involves making the transition to web marketing, which also serves to modernise marketing strategies and help brands to engage with wider audiences and different customer segments.
Top online marketing firms can handle all the business needs of these leading brands from end to end. Logo creation, graphic design, web and social media marketing, email promotions are just some ways tobacco marketing is becoming increasingly innovative. Tobacco marketing has spread across over 16 developing nations and more than 462 individual communities, as per research.
- Why Target Developing Countries?
Popularity of tobacco has peaked in emerging economies. Countries being increasingly targeted include India and Zimbabwe where tobacco marketing is 81 times more prevalent than in developed countries like Canada, UAE and Sweden. Big Tobacco is pouring money into these countries to gain a foothold there and numbers show it is increasing. Within 10 years in the Russian market, Big Tobacco saw the rate of female buyers double.
- The Value of Internet Marketing
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are standardised. So, quality brands need to advertise to gain a competitive differentiation from rival brands. Through marketing and advertising, different brands can distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace. Online marketing is valuable because it targets the youth.
Market researchers for Imperial Tobacco, for instance, found that maintenance and stability of the cigarette market depends on recruitment of young demographics to tobacco products. So the focus is on advertising themes and promotions that appeal to young individuals. Brands need to carve out an identity for themselves and make their pitch distinctive. Online marketing offers rich and interactive platforms for achieving this.
Contrast this to the marketing strategy used by Wills when it introduced a filter-tipped cigarette brand, called Strand cigarettes. The ads featured a lone figure the Strand Man walking alone while smoking. The tag line? You’re never alone with a Strand! It appealed to a youthful demographic of this time. Since then, young people and their social habits have formed the base for tobacco companies which run promos. Brands are increasingly youthful and modern, when they tap online marketing platforms. Given the profusion of app-based marketing and digital outreach, Big Tobacco is angling for a bigger market share in developing countries through online marketing tools and techniques that resonate with an increasingly digital savvy consumer.