• 22.12.2012 Berryville Bust Part Of $33M Cigarettes Sting

    A Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg has indicted dozens of individuals for conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes, money laundering and a variety of related charges.The defendants were charged by the grand jury in four separate indictments returned under seal on February 17, 2011, August 3, 2011 and October 6, 2011. Those indictments were unsealed earlier this week following the arrest and initial court appearances by the defendants.The charges are the result of a three-year investigation by the United...

  • 20.11.2012 Covenant Kicks The Habit

    Amy Olson-Yarbrough was tired of being a prisoner to tobacco."I decided I didn't want cigarettes to control my life any more," Olson-Yarbrough said. "When you're a smoker you have to figure out where you're going to be able to smoke cigarettes next, how long until my next cigarette, how am I going to hide it from my kids . . ."So, on Nov. 23, 2010, Olson-Yarbrough - a pack-a-day smoker who had been at it for close to two decades - quit smoking cigarettes.Now, Olson-Yarbrough can't stand anything about it."The smell of buy cigarettes really nauseates me," she said. "I'll never go back to...

  • 18.10.2012 No-smoking Policy For New Hires

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  • 09.09.2012 California Court Approves 16:1 Punitive Damage Award

    Corporate America has pushed hard for years to hold the line on punitive damages, with some successThe Supreme Court has ruled that excessively high punitive damage awards, designed to punish defendants for particularly egregious behavior, can violate the Due Process clause. And the California Supreme Court had held that punitive damages typically should not be more than nine to ten times the size of damages awarded to compensate injured parties.But in a smoking cigarettes case against Philip Morris, a California appellate court yesterday signed off on punitive damages that were 16 times...

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Created by the company Liggett & Myers in 1953, discount L&M cigarettes are a brand of cigarettes produced by Altria Group, Inc.

L&M cigarette is one of the earliest, perhaps the earliest brand to have a filter that was not a one sided filter. When the L&M cigarette brand was launched, their motto was American cigarettes of the highest quality with the best filter. When their success in the American market was solidified, Liggett Group made a proposal to take the L&M cigarette international. The brand is popular in Latin America, central and northern Europe, the Arab World and the far east and south Asia. They were not very common in the continental US until a new roll out made them available in October 2007. According to the information of the independent agency of field investigation "Business Analytics", the second quarter of 2007, Phillip Morris brands took the first place in 25 Russian cities with a market share of 29.92%.

During the press conference, it was reported that discount L&M cigarettes takes third place in the world by sales volume. Also, the L&M cigarette brand second place among other cigarette brands produced by Philip Morris International.

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L&M cigarettes volumes have grown from 8 billion in 1990 to 69 billion in 1995, making it the world's second largest and fastest growing International brand. An average annual growth rate of more than 50% from 1990-1995 is unrivalled in the IB segment which grew on average by just 7% per annum (although value IB's grew by 17%). Even Marlboro has only managed a 6% average growth rate during this period.

The main reason for this phenomenal growth is the successful launch across the developing Central/Eastern European and Central Asian markets, which now account for just over 70% of total volumes (from 0% in 1990). L&M cigarettes is a key element of Philip Morris marketing strategy for these regions; the objective being to deliver to the consumer an international brand at an accessible price point which will be a "stepping stone" to premium priced brands. Within just 2/3 years L&M cigarettes has become a leading brand in many of these markets.

In Western Europe, L&M cigarettes has also proved that it is an appealing consumer proposition for price sensitive but value conscious consumers downtrading from premium brands, following a series of high real price increases. In providing this value/quality alternative, Philip Morris aims both to keep existing Philip Morris consumers and capture new consumers downtrading from other premium brands. The intention being to ensure that when these smokers eventually trade back up, it will be to Marlboro.

Sales outside the European/Central Asian markets account for just 14% of the total, mostly generated in Brazil and Argentina, where the brand is in decline due to irrelevant consumer positioning or its price position being better occupied by an alternative brand (normally a local one). L&M cigarettes coupons continues to grow and current performance indicates that volumes could reach 85 billion (+20%) in 1996.

Brand earnings (before marketing spend) are estimated at US$220-280 million or $3-$4 per mille - therefore making a meaningful contribution to Philip Morris tobacco profitability. A key factor in this profitability is low cost sourcing (increasing use of Brazil and local factories in Eastern/Central Europe to replace US/Westem European exports to the new lower margin markets). Despite the high volumes, L&M cigarettes profitability is undermined to a large extent by the significant margins offered to the distributive and retail trade in key developing markets (e.g. in the region of 40-60% in Russia).

By implementing regular price increases, L&M cigarettes should begin to achieve profitability more in line with its brand positioning and volumes while maintaining attractive margins for the trade. In managing its future pricing, P.M. will focus upon the price gaps between L&M cigarettes and Marlboro cigarettes and between L&M and local brands.

There are differences in packaging from market to market to meet local consumer preferences. However, in all markets the visual aspect of the discount L&M cigarettes pack is very consistent. The simple, clean and impactful design serves to enhance the brand's core values (good value, accessible and modem) which are applicable to all L&M cigarettes key markets. Moreover, any inconsistency does not appear to diminish L&M cigarettes association with Philip Morris and Marlboro. The ongoing role of Communications is less clear. Consumer feedback in this area appears to indicate that whilst the brand's advertising does seem to communicate positive values/imagery, it has relatively low recall (both spontaneous and prompted). There is also little overall consistency in ATL creative with 3/4 different campaigns.

The "Route 66" ATL campaign is the core image campaign used in most markets (Eastern Europe and the Middle East) with strong YAUS / American themes, but other ATL creative used in Spain and Belgium/Germany has a more tactical feel with price/value as the central message. An entirely different campaign has been used in Argentina with a different positioning - aspirational, romantic, upmarket and sophisticated - reflected by an older consumer profile. L&M cigarettes has no major direct marketing or sponsorship activities (other than local sponsorships). Pack redemption based competition promotions are used widely to build volumes. The different ATL approaches reflect the different positioning of discount L&M cigarettes across the world (uptrading or downtrading) plus the relative freedom given to end markets to develop a market specific communications execution.

The flexible approach to communications activity is backed up by an apparently tactical spend strategy. Not only is spend relatively low, estimated at US$ 50-60 million (bearing in mind the size of the brand), with low share of voice in many markets, but there is also evidence that this is restricted to burst activity to support launch/price initiatives as necessary. This is in sharp contrast to Marlboro - continuous and progressively increasing spend to build and reinforce high quality brand values. However, spend for L&M cigarettes in many of its key markets remains higher than that for competing BAT brands. Moreover, in specific instances (e.g. Russia and Belgium), L&M cigarettes has benefited from limited advertising restrictions which allowed up to two years of uncontrolled communications exposure free of effective competition. (The L&M cigarettes brand mix is analysed fully in Section 3 of this report).

Philip Morris is happy for L&M cigarettes to evolve into a strong brand for the long term, but its overall objective is to grow premium brands. This therefore implies that Philip Morris sees L&M cigarettes role primarily as one of support - to facilitate uptrading to Marlboro over the long term in both emerging and mature markets. In price sensitive markets such as Finland and Belgium, we believe it is Philip Morris objective to catch and keep consumers who are downtrading from Marlboro but will eventually return to Marlboro when the pricing environment is more favourable.

The evidence for this support role strategy for discount L&M cigarettes is:
Considerable flexibility with L&M cigarettes prices ranging between 50% and 97% of Marlboro's price with the objective of building volumes over the short term. Initial product analysis suggests blend similarities between Marlboro cigarettes and other Philip Morris brands (Chesterfield cigarettes and Bond Street cigarettes) which may promote smooth consumer transfer between these brands. Philip Morris may be using the brand portfolio to move smokers up to Marlboro, with Bond Street as the brand closest to the local taste requirement, L&M cigarettes tending more towards USIB, and with Marlboro being the eventual destination brand for consumers as they trade up; the common link being "all products from Philip Morris". This hypothesis will, however, need further analysis. These blend similarities also allow for production/cost efficiencies. Relatively low key communications activities with a brand world/personality which does not challenge the strong image characteristics of the Marlboro campaign.

Discount L&M cigarette is the affordable US blended international brand or put another way, the "poor man's" Marlboro. To smokers in the emerging markets it is "Little Marlboro" (literally the "alternative Marlboro") - the brand that they can afford which most closely reflects the values of the most aspirational brand in the world, Marlboro. This therefore implies that when economies improve and spending power rises, these smokers will trade up to Marlboro. In the mature markets, a large proportion of L&M cigarette smokers are former Marlboro (or other premium price USIB) smokers who have become sensitive to price following high real price increases in recent years. Switching data shows a strong association between Marlboro and L&M cigarettes suggesting that it is Philip Morris objective to ensure that over the longer term these smokers eventually return to Marlboro. In this context, L&M cigarettes performs a defensive and sourcing role, providing the value/quality alternative to Marlboro.

L&M cigarettes will remain a Philip Morris brand priority - L&M cigarettes are already a large and well established brand both in mature and emerging arkets. It will benefit from further growth potential in the emerging markets of Eastern/Central Europe and Central Asia. Philip Morris will also look to better exploit the brand in Latin America as part of its objective to grow regional share. Furthermore, there is significant potential to launch/exploit the brand in other regions of the world. L&M cigarettes has significantly moved Philip Mom's into the lower price segment in many markets, thereby attacking the significant BAT business with both local and regional brands or occupying the ground that such brands normally occupy.

The challenge for BAT is to respond with a flexible but clear brand portfolio strategy on a regional or market specific basis for this mid-price segment This strategy should address whether we are in an uptrading or downtrading market context what the role of local and international brands is, and which IB is most appropriate e.g. Pall Mall.

The roles of distribution, point of purchase communication, media advertising, trade margins and the product synergy with our higher priced brands are all critical elements within our strategy for this segment Above all; this is a mass volume segment opportunity where significant sales and market share should remain the main objective.

Philip Morris will continue to support L&M cigarettes and launch it into new markets where Marlboro remains too large a price jump for local brand smokers. Its role will primarily be that of an intermediary stepping stone to Marlboro. In some markets, there may be a second intermediary step at a price point between L&M cigarettes and Marlboro cigarettes with Chesterfield cigarettes performing this role. The implication for BAT is to quickly establish a global, regional and market specific price segmented brand strategy with clear brand roles for both local and international brands (many markets already have this strategy).

Discount L&M cigarettes has experienced significant volume growth, particularly over the last 3 years, growing at a much higher rate than both the total International and the value sub segment Bond Street, Philip Morris low price regional brand in Central/Eastern Europe has grown at a similar rate to L&M cigarettes. BATs Viceroy, JPGL, Hollywood and Pall Mall have all grown more slowly than the overall value IFB segment

Most of the brand's growth is as a result of launch from 1992 onwards into Central/Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In Russia, L&M cigarettes is now the largest International Brand following launch in 1993 (volumes appear to be stabilising and are expected to plateau at around 25 to 26 billion sticks in 1996). The launch in Turkey in October 1994 has been particularly successful with volumes reaching over 3 billion in 1995. The size and potential of other markets in this region means that L&M cigarettes still has significant growth opportunities in the short to medium term.

Philip Morris was also forced to pull a new ATL campaign in 1995 because of similarities to Souza Cruz' Free campaign. In Argentina, the brand is in decline in a pricing environment (prices fixed since 1991) which favours uptrading to higher priced brands. L&M cigarettes current relative weakness in Latin America will not prevent Philip Morris from using the brand in the future as one of its weapons for attacking BAT stronghold markets. Whilst it currently has a very small presence in the Asia Pacific/America Pacific region, Philip Morris will look to exploit the L&M cigarettes trademark where appropriate in these markets.

Available GCS data suggests that L&M cigarettes has found consumer support with smokers from a wide range of age categories, but all with the same value conscious characteristic. Depending on the positioning of the brand and pricing structure of the market, L&M cigarettes profile is stronger for different age groups; it is clearly YAUS in Russia and Belgium; slightly older in Spain, although retaining a reasonable YAUS share, and appealing to all age groups in Finland.

Identical cigarette design (filter pressure drop, tip, ventilation, paper permeability, citrate levels in the cigarette paper) tend to be used for both L&M and Marlboro with possibly one or two exceptions (Saudi Arabia and Spain).

R&D product analysis has demonstrated consistency of product across markets and in some cases with other Philip Morris brands. In most markets the blend chemistry suggests that L&M cigarettes tends to have a slightly more flue-cured bias than the equivalent Marlboro - the exception being Saudi Arabia where it is believed that L&M cigarettes and Marlboro cigarettes use a common blend. In Russia, the shift away from Marlboro was greater (L&M cigarettes closer to Bond Street).

Product similarity with Marlboro could be deliberate to facilitate switching between Philip Morris brands and particularly switching up to Marlboro (the ultimate objective) - thus preventing switching out to competitor brands. Product cost/manufacturing source synergies are also more likely in this scenario.

Blind testing and consumer research (but limited data) indicate that the L&M cigarettes product benefits from the same high quality characteristics as Marlboro. Sourcing - main sources appear to be US, Brazil and Western Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland). But two trends are emerging - a shift towards lower cost production sources where possible (e.g. Brazil) and increased local sourcing in Eastern/Central Europe as production technology/processes improve (L&M cigarettes and Bond Street cigarettes production has started in Turkey, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Hungary and most recently in Kazakstan).

Availability - one of the key elements behind L&M cigarettes success, particularly in Central/Eastern Europe where wide distribution has been secured in a very short time scale. This has given Philip Morris a critical competitive advantage - allowing it to establish a mid price/value international brand before the competition. TM&D activities include:

• Using the power of Marlboro to get trade support (Marlboro supply guaranteed if L&M cigarettes is stocked, plus joint trade promotions).
• POS space management, positioning L&M cigarettes with Marlboro cigarettes.
• Trade hot-line for emergency ordering.
• Free gifts/product supply if POS material is taken.
• Favourable discounts, credit terms and bonus points systems.
• High call frequency to ensure no stock outs.

Market data indicates that 1995 L&M cigarettes spend was at a level of US $43 million as can be seen on the chart. However, given that some markets were unable to supply complete data, we estimate that spend was actually higher at between US$ 50-60 million. Many markets expect spend to increase in 1996. However, bearing in mind the size of the brand this is still relatively low, although it is Philip Morris second spend priority brand behind Marlboro in Central/Eastern Europe. Contrast this with estimated spend for Marlboro (outside the US) of approximately US$ 650 million. L&M cigarettes spend is also typically higher than tor competing BAT brands.

Share of voice in most markets is also low and often heavily focused on the launch period or at times of significant pricing activity (a good example of this was the relaunch in 1994/5 in Spain where spend hit US$7 million). Spend reflects the brand's regional focus, although within regions it is well spread and is concentrated in ATL and promotional activities.

An analysis of CIF prices in Russia shows that L&M cigarettes gives significantly greater margin to the trade than BATs comparable brands, such as Pall Mall. This makes it difficult to compete with L&M cigarettes while maintaining profitability. Portfolio Pricing Strategy - the two key determinants are the Marlboro price and the price of Local Brands. In a downtrading context, L&M cigarettes is positioned either at the same price point as local brands or between these and Marlboro, the exact positioning being determined by the size of the gap. In an uptrading context, L&M cigarettes is positioned between local and Marlboro. Absolute prices and price gaps are highly market specific, which supports the view that pricing decisions are taken on a market specific basis with a high degree of flexibility.

Reactive versus proactive pricing - in markets where Philip Morris has a dominant position, it will rarely initiate price wars (e.g. Western Europe), but will respond quickly and effectively to competitor activity. In markets, where it wishes to build share quickly or challenge the competition (e.g. Eastern or Central Europe), it will use price more aggressively to achieve its objectives. This is most clearly demonstrated by its pricing strategy in Hungary last year.

Discount L&M cigarettes represents exceptional value to the consumer, a good quality international offer at a reasonable price. It therefore has universal appeal in a broad range of markets, benefiting from Philip Morris excellent distribution and a strong association with Marlboro. Given the brand mix, Philip Morris is able to adopt a flexible marketing strategy for L&M cigarettes to meet the differing needs of specific markets.