Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Rothmans (UK) Marketing Services


  In the first year of tracking, Royals 20s recorded promoted brand awareness among young adult smokers of 71 per cent. It is possible that some awareness may be the result of respondents confusing the 20s pack with the more familiar 24s pack. However, even taking this into account, this compares favourably with Sovereign which achieved 54 per cent awareness in the first year after launch.

  In line with their relative under-use of LTKS and ultra low tar brands, these brands are at the bottom of the prompted awareness list among young adult smokers, although the figures are still generally higher than for the smoking population as a whole. This reinforces the fact that young adult smokers are actively choosing not to smoke brands from these sectors, even though they know about them. The marketing issue is therefore not one of improving awareness, but of increasing the appeal of these brands to young adult smokers.


  As with brand awareness, young adult smokers are more widely aware of cigarette advertising than smokers in general. The reasons for this are likely to be two-fold:

    —  As discussed above, media consumption is generally higher for younger adults than for older adults. Young adult smokers are therefore likely to have been exposed to more advertising as a natural result of their higher media consumption.

    —  Many of the heaviest cigarette advertisers (for example Marlboro, B&H, Silk Cut) place advertising in male style press publications which have a younger readership profile. This allows tighter targeting of both the audience and the message. A key recent example of this is the Embassy Lights executions in the male style press which are much harder hitting than the more generic Embassy work seen in more broadcast arenas.

  The ranking of brands by spontaneous advertising awareness is broadly similar between all smokers and young adult smokers. The Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut families are clear leaders, followed by Marlboro, and these are the only three brands among young adult smokers to achieve more than 10 per cent spontaneous advertising awareness. Many others achieve only a base level of less than 5 per cent among young adult smokers.

  Marlboro is the only family to record a steady increase in the level of spontaneous advertising awareness and this is a testament to the effectiveness of a constant presence and theme over recent years, as well as relevance to its target market.

  The other notable increase is for L&B, for which spontaneous advertising awareness increased from 1 per cent in 1996 to 6 per cent in 1997. Again, this will be the result of the heavy ATL support the brand has received, particularly since the introduction of the current image building campaign.

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  One of the key drivers of young adult smokers which has not changed is the (claimed) single minded pursuit of sexual relations. The places they go and the things they do are inextricably linked to this aim. This has particular relevance to the brands they adopt.


  Like all young adults, young adult smokers are very brand aware. There is a general acceptance that the right brands confer status upon the owner, but there is also the ever present fear of being seen with the wrong brand. Above all, there was a rejection of the notion that there is a single right look—they are tolerant of a range of looks and styles within a loosely defined acceptable boundary.

  In general, young adult smokers are looking for big brands—Nike, Adidas, Tango, Bud, Marlboro, B&H. Again it is important to remember that most young adult smokers are mainstream individuals with quite ordinary tastes. They want brands for credibility—for many, to have a quirky brand is almost as uncomfortable as having no brand because it sets them apart from the gang rather than making them a part of it.

  For many young adult smokers, the choice of brands (indeed, the choice whether to have a brand at all) depends upon circumstances:

    "Armani shirt for the club . . . M&S shirt for work".

  The full-time branded life is not a reality for most. This is partly that they cannot afford this approach, and partly the need to fit into different environments—an Armani shirt at work would be just as out of place as an M&S shirt in a club. It is clear that the underlying desire is to be individual, but still conform to their peer group norm.

  Many of the items that young adult smokers would place in a time capsule to epitomise the 1990s are reasonably stable—beer, cigarettes, computer games, music and mobile communications. It is interesting, however, that cigarettes (including Marlboro specifically) appear for a different reason in 1998. This is not just that they epitomise enjoyment, but that they may well be illegal in the future.


  The goals of young adult smokers are a combination of the desire for advancement, and the desire to avoid responsibility. As might be expected from their black view of the future, the goals are not the "fly to the moon" variety, but are realistic and modest. On a positive note, young adult smokers want increased resources, greater status, self confidence and a chance to consolidate their views and values into an identity. More negatively, they want to avoid responsibility, postpone decisions, stay single and stay out of the rat race.

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Prepared 6 March 2000