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Philip Morris International

Electronic Marlboro sucks smokers away from Japan Tobacco

http://english.astroawani.com/business-news/electronic-marlboro-sucks-smokers-away-japan-tobacco-113807

TOKYO: Marlboro maker Philip Morris International says its e-cigarette has rapidly captured close to 3 percent of Japanese tobacco sales, making inroads into a market Japan Tobacco (JT) relies on for 40 percent of its profit.

In what may be an early vindication of Philip Morris’s e-cigarette strategy, the iQOS accounted for 2.2 percent of Japan’s tobacco sales in the quarter ended June 30, a company spokesman said.

That share had climbed to 2.7 percent by the end of June after Philip Morris rolled out the 9,980 yen ($98.53) electronic smoker in late April accompanied by “HeatSticks”, which cost the same as regular cigarettes.

“The figures clearly show that iQOS is stealing a chunk of the rolled tobacco market,” said Masashi Mori, analyst at Credit Suisse Securities in Tokyo. Japan’s overall cigarette sales in June shrank 5.2 percent.

On Friday, JT said revenue from July cigarettes sales in Japan dipped by 3.4 percent to 53.4 billion yen.

Unlike conventional e-cigarettes that vaporise a nicotine infused liquid, iQOS produces a smokeless aerosol by heating tobacco leaf packed into stubby cigarettes inserted into the device.

So far it has tested the gadget in seven countries including cities in Switzerland and Italy. Japan, which has suppressed e-cigarette “vaping” by regulating nicotine liquids under pharmaceutical laws, is the only country where it is sold nationwide.

Demand for iQOS, which is made in Malaysia, has outstripped demand, leaving Philip Morris unable to make the most of its early entry into Japan. Some limited-edition IQOS models are selling online for as much as 80,000 yen.

“When Philip Morris can supply enough to meet demand then its push in to the market is very likely to accelerate,” UBS Securities Japan analyst Naomi Takagi said.

E-cigarettes assuage some smokers’ health concerns and ease social stigmas attached to tobacco. Tobacco firms are battling to take an early lead in the emerging market as overall cigarette sales shrink globally.

Sales of e-cigarettes, however, are booming, growing five times to $8 billion in 2014 from 2010, according to research company Euromonitor. The market in 2020 is likely to be 20 times the 2010 level, predicts Euromonitor. Global cigarette revenue is about $750 billion.

Philip Morris plans to widen sales of iQOS to 20 countries by the end of the year.
Former state tobacco monopoly Japan Tobacco, which has 60 percent of its domestic market, is struggling to counter the challenge with its own device. JT’s electronic cigarette stick, dubbed the Ploom TECH, creates a vapor from a liquid that is passed through granulated tobacco.

Yet the world’s No. 3 cigarette maker has so far been unable to match iQOS’s nationwide launch, with no clear indication yet when it will have sufficient production output to do so.

“It doubtful JT will manage a wider launch before the end of the year,” Takagi at UBS Securities said.

Smoke without fire – Japan becomes test ground for real tobacco e-cigarette

Two tobacco giants are seeing strong demand for their reboots of the e-cigarette in Japan, with Philip Morris International (PM.N) twice postponing a nationwide rollout and Japan Tobacco (2914.T) suspending shipments – both due to supply shortages.

Japan has become a key testing ground for the two companies and their new, real tobacco esmokes as they grapple with shrinking demand for traditional cigarettes in other developed countries.

Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, has postponed the nationwide rollout of its iQOS to April 18.

“We believe that the success of iQOS commercialisation in Japan will accelerate its global expansion,” Philip Morris Japan president Paul Riley told Reuters.

Japan Tobacco CEO Mitsuomi Koizumi told an earnings briefing in February: “We have very high expectations for growth of the so-called tobacco vapour category in five years or so from now.”

The iQOS is a tobacco stick that is heated just enough to produce an aerosol but not combust. The company is betting the presence of real tobacco will make it more satisfying to smokers than existing e-cigarettes.

The new device, priced at 9,980 yen (£62.5), appears similar to other e-cigarettes in that it is pen-shaped and battery-powered, and is heated to release tobacco vapour.

A key distinction is the refills, sold as Marlboro HeatSticks. Most e-cigarettes sold elsewhere use nicotine-laced liquid, which is heavily regulated in Japan. A pack of 20 HeatSticks sells for 460 yen, the same as regular Marlboro cigarettes.

Philip Morris has introduced the products in major cities in Switzerland, Italy and other countries, but Japan is the first country it plans a nationwide release.

The company had originally planned to sell the product throughout Japan on March 1, but postponed the launch to the end of the month due to a potential supply shortage after it saw stronger-than-expected sales in 12 prefectures where it has been test marketing.

The company estimates the market share of Marlboro HeatSticks reached 2.4 percent in Tokyo at the end of January.

Japan Tobacco, which commands about 60 percent of Japan’s cigarette market and is the world’s third-largest tobacco maker, has also got in on the action by acquiring two overseas ecigarette makers in the past two years.

In Japan, it has launched the Ploom TECH, priced at 4,000 yen and sold with 460-yen packs of five capsules. Ploom TECH’s selling point is that vapour generated from a liquid cartridge passes through the capsules’ granulated tobacco, creating a taste the company says is close to the real thing.

“There is definitely a need for products that are smokeless but are still satisfying as cigarettes,” said Masanao Takahashi, director at Japan Tobacco’s emerging products marketing division.

Like iQOS, Ploom TECH’s initial launch in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka proved so popular that the shipment of the device were suspended after a week due to a supply shortage.

It is currently working on a nationwide launch and is also eyeing a global expansion later this year.