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Cigarette maker Philip Morris raising profile in Jamaica

Jamaica Gleaner / Philip Morris International is gunning for a bigger share of the Jamaican cigarette market.

The world’s largest tobacco company has already put down deeper roots in Jamaica, having registered a local subsidiary Philip Morris International (Jamaica) Limited earlier this year, with offices at 109 Marcus Garvey Drive, effectively sharing premises with distribution partner Musson Jamaica.

Their product to this point was mainly distributed to the tourist market by Musson. Now PMI Jamaica wants to broaden its client base by coming into the market with a full-bore marketing campaign that has seen the cigarette trader building relationships and upping visibility of the American-made brands.

“We’re acting like a big brand in Jamaica, like any other national or global brand. We are here to support you; we’re here to support visibility,” said Commercial Executive of PMI Jamaica Kevin Bourke at an event to plug Marlboro 2.5 cigarettes.

 

STRATEGIC ATTACK  

Since 2014, the company has been strategising to attack the local market, which is currently dominated by brands sold by British America Tobacco Plc, the UK-based parent company for Carreras Limited. It included work done to ensure cigarette packages conform to local regulatory requirements, and studying the Jamaican consumer to determine how to satisfy them, which Bourke said, led to altering the flavour profile of PMI’s brands.

“We’ve come in and we’ve tooled our product to the taste profile of the Jamaican consumer. We think we’ve come up with the right blend. Some who have tried it already say, ‘Wow this is not the Marlboro I’m used to’,” the commercial director said.

PMI Jamaica is putting three brands into the trade under the Marlboro 2.5 line 2.5 refers to the length of the cigarette at 2.5 inches. The market is already seeing Marlboro 2.5 Red, Bold (formerly light) and Menthol. These are expected to go head to head with the Craven A and Matterhorn brands distributed by Carreras.

Bourke says PMI Jamaica has engaged in a lot of ‘above the line’ activity, including branding at convenience stores, wall displays and billboards at strategic locations across Jamaica.

“We have sixteen billboards, nationally. We have nine in the Kingston metropolitan region, two in Spanish Town, two in Montego Bay, two in Ocho Rios,” Bourke said. Industry estimates put the cost of a billboard at $1 million to $1.5 million.

PMI is also offering trade deals. Retailers present at the launch of Marlboro 2.5 got a 20 per cent discount on bulk purchases. In addition, the carton of Marlboro that normally sells for $7,580 was being retailed at $6,840.

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