Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Philip Morris' Global Push to Hook New Customers


AUSANNE, Switzerland -- Sitting in his office overlooking Lake Geneva, Philip Morris International Chief Executive André Calantzopoulos takes a long drag from an unusually short cigarette. Called Marlboro Intense, the product has been shrunk down by about a half inch, and offers smokers seven potent puffs apiece, versus the average of eight or so milder draws.

The idea behind Intense is to appeal to customers who, due to indoor smoking bans, want to dash outside for a quick nicotine hit but don't always finish a full-size cigarette. Pointing to his lit Intense, the CEO says there are "possibly 50 markets that are interested in deploying it."

Marlboro Intense is likely to be part of an aggressive blitz of new smoking products PMI will roll out around the globe once the company -- now a unit of New York-based Altria Group Inc. -- becomes a standalone entity. That change will be set into motion tomorrow, when the Altria board is expected to approve a long-awaited decision to split PMI from Philip Morris USA. The move would free the tobacco giant's international operations of legal and public-relations headaches in the U.S. that have hindered its growth.

The separate entity, for example, would be exempt from U.S. tobacco regulations and out of reach of American litigators. Importantly, its practices would no longer be constrained by American public opinion, paving the way for broad product experimentation.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I always knew about the huge influence of the tobacco industry, but I optimistically (maybe naively) felt with U.S., France and other country’s bans that tobacco and cigarette smoking would decrease. Granted, the article did state that smoking has decreased over two years, but in developing countries it is bigger than ever. Shouldn’t it be these countries that start fresh? But considering the international profit- $48.26 billion in 2006- it makes sense why developing countries support the industry.

A couple of scary things from the article were PMI’s plans for “broad product experimentation.” Some of the innovations include more potent cigarettes or extra-wides – so wide they require side opening box. The break from PM USA may not be the best route for a healthier future.

I just e-mailed this article to Debunkify friends. Maybe they can come up with another witty t-shirt to combat the changes.

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