So many thoughts that capture my mind are worthy of being written about in this article. Each random thought could capture the message of intent. Some would incite our emotions (like the recent attack on Terry Gallagher of Smoker Friendly who accepted the position as coach of the Boulder High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team in Colorado). Some would make us ponder in our mind (like "GlaxoSmithKline to Market Nicotine Mini-Lozenges in Cherry and Mint Flavors; Is This Also a Ploy to Lure Kids?") And some I hope would bring us to action (like supporting Tom Briant and the efforts of NATO).
But this one thought I do know is that the world is rapidly changing for the tobacco user, the tobacco distributor and the tobacco retailer. Whether the issues are taxes, restrictions, limitations, changing regulators and regulations, the broad social and legal landscape for these users and retailers is changing rapidly. Recently, I read a very interesting article (thoughts) regarding about how even smokers are changing.
"Non-daily smokers are a fast-growing subpopulation of smokers, now constituting at least 25% of all adult smokers in the U.S.," added Saul Shiffman, a professor in the departments of psychology and pharmaceutical science at the University of Pittsburgh.
The facts and the studies speak to one of the most under-reported statistics in the US media with respect to smoking and tobacco usage. The fastest growing group of smokers in the US is the casual smoker; the smoker who uses traditional tobacco products when they find themselves in social situations where others are using tobacco, or use to use tobacco. These smokers use tobacco on a weekly or a thrice to twice weekly basis and are not addicted to nicotine and not likely to become addicted to nicotine. These studies fly in the face of pharmaceutical companies, erstwhile medical experts and anti-tobacco activists who would have you believe that tobacco use is a one way ticket to nicotine addiction and a lifetime of struggles.
Other very interesting research supports similar findings. Of the smokers who believe that they have quit and then gone back to cigarettes after six months, more than 53% say they do so because they miss the "activity" of smoking, the hand to mouth action, with something to hold and touch. The point of this statistic is that most physicians and psychologists will tell you that at 6 months, the nicotine addiction is "beat, but they still go back, referring to the idea that, "I need to do something with my hands!"
The fact of the matter is that many consumers are using traditional tobacco products because of the sociability factor and hand-to-mouth activity and/or oral gratification that it provides. For these consumers researchers are finding, products without nicotine, tobacco and/or smoke will suffice in all of the situations that they now use tobacco, but without the odor, social liability and hassle. For these consumers, a new class of products, without nicotine, without tobacco in most cases and without smoke, is the ticket! No drugs, no tobacco, no regulatory restrictions, tobacco taxes and no restrictions as to how and where they can be displayed, sampled and sold!
But, the key to the success of these products and having consumers find them is to have them available where and when traditional tobacco is sold as well as "new age" tobacco/nicotine products. Many consumers are searching for ways to substitute for tobacco in places where they can no longer use it. As a result, products designed for substitution and alternatives need to be where tobacco users typically and consistently buy their tobacco products. These new products, placed on counters where the traditional smoker and casual smoker can and will see them can increase margins, revenue and without the accompanying tax burdens and regulatory oversight.
Folks, the trends are building and accelerating and they are undeniable! Take a look at this category. Don't be afraid to stock it. Build it properly and they will come! This is a real opportunity to grow revenue, margins and build loyalty among a growing group of identifiable consumers (social users) as well as those that are looking for options for when they choose not to smoke.
A closing thought with much merit, "It's better to be led by a vision of the future than chased by the concerns of today!"
About Lou Maiellano