JT Renames Key Brand
Japan Tobacco has revealed plans to rename its key brand of cigarettes from”Mild Seven” to “Mevius” trying to boost its market share on the international market.
Mild Seven was introduced in 1977 and is currently the best-selling brand in Japan, holding 30 percent market share. Nevertheless, from November the legendary brand will have a new pack design, and even a new name, which become official in February 2013.
The flavor of Mild Seven cigarettes will not be changed though. JT declared Mevius brand will be gradually launched in the markets across the world.
The cigarette maker chose the name Mevius so that the consumers could associate it with the former name, since both contain letters ‘S’ and ‘M’; other variants considered by the company were not disclosed.
Japan Tobacco hopes the re-branding will allow to maintain revenues by boosting international sales as the domestic market is declining.
In addition, JT is currently deciding on the price of Mevious brand, but admits it is a premium brand, so it would cost not less than Mild Seven was selling for.
JT Focuses on International Markets
European legislation was one of the major reasons behind the re-branding. JT attempts to avoid regulations on brand names, including the terms “light” and “mild”, which according to the new rules may mislead consumers about the health risks related to smoking certain cigarettes.
Mitsuomi Koizumi, Japan Tobacco President, declared the group is wiling to expand international operations with its flagship brand.
“International marketing for Winston and Camel cigarette brands, which we purchased in 1999, has given some solid results, so Mild Seven is next,” Koizumi stated.
Cigarette sales on Japan market have been declining since reaching record high of 348.3 billion cigarettes in 1996, falling to 197.5 billion in 2011. As adult smokers move away from cigarettes, tobacco companies have hard time maintaining revenues.
Mild Seven, with 76.5 billion cigarettes sold last year, is the second-largest cigarette brand for Japan Tobacco, only behind Winston, which recorded sales of 130.7 billion units. At the same time, Mild Seven’s overseas performance is not so impressive, as it is available in 16 markets, mostly across Asian region. From the 76.5 billion Mild Seven cigarettes sold in 2011 only 18.9 billion were sold overseas.
“Mild Seven is well-known in Asian countries, however it is unknown in the United States and European Union member-states,” Koizumi added.
The cigarette maker admitted it began developing a name change nearly two years ago, after market research results showed that rebranding would not lead to negative effects.
In a consumer poll, Mevius was selected by respondents, as the best name from the point of awakening a feeling of luxury, style and sophistication, the company said.