Objectives: Philip Morris has a history of aggressive marketing tactics in its global pursuit of IQOS sales, which extant literature suggests may appeal to non-smokers and young adults. This study was the first to examine point-of-sale (POS) marketing and pricing of IQOS after it entered the US market in October 2019.
Methods: Trained field staff assessed 75 retail partner stores selling IQOS/HeatSticks in the Atlanta area in February-November 2020 using an IQOS-tailored, standardised assessment tool. The tool assessed store characteristics, product availability and accessibility, marketing and promotions and pricing for each store.
Results: All stores assessed sold HeatSticks in at least one of the three flavours (tobacco, smooth menthol, fresh menthol), but did not sell the IQOS device. IQOS/HeatSticks marketing was present inside 98.5% and outside 17.3% of stores assessed. Marketing for other tobacco products was present inside 98.5% and outside 32% of stores. The average price per HeatSticks pack was US$6.40 compared with US$6.08 for Marlboro Red cigarettes.
Conclusion: Our study revealed a considerable amount of POS marketing and promotion for IQOS/HeatSticks at retail partner locations, visible to all retail consumers, including youth and non-smokers. This study was the first to examine IQOS POS marketing and promotion in the US context and findings add to the extant literature on IQOS global marketing strategies. As additional novel tobacco/nicotine products continue to enter the market, targeted monitoring of the POS marketing and promotion for these new products is warranted.
Keywords: advertising and promotion; non-cigarette tobacco products; price.
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