Monday, September 7, 2009

Turning Over a Bright Leaf

A couple of weeks ago, Marlboro launched Bright Leaf, a new mid-priced cigarette brand that for now is only available in the UK. Bright Leaf is 8% cheaper than Marlboro's other brands (that's a saving of about 70 cents on a pack of 20), and offers a different blend of tobacco "which has been specifically designed to address the taste dimensions of the British adult smoker" according to Zoe Smith, Marlboro's UK marketing manager.

Launching a new cigarette brand in the UK is exceptionally tough. British law requires 40% of all cigarette packaging to be taken up by health warnings, and has also eliminated all forms of cigarette advertising. The last straw will come in 2011, when retailers will no longer be able to display cigarettes and will have to keep them hidden under the counter.

With so many other marketing vehicles unavailable to them, it's not surprising that Marlboro has turned to packaging to generate buzz for Bright Leaf. The new packs will have a "tactile finish" and are side-hinged to open like a Zippo lighter unlike the standard flip-top design. According to Marketing Week magazine, "by introducing the new variant in unusual packs, Marlboro will harness the power of word of mouth marketing and the brand will sell itself."

So put on your branding hats and put aside your ethical concerns. Are cool packaging and lower prices sufficient to ensure the success of Marlboro Bright Leaf? What would you do differently if you were the brand manager? Do you think Bright Leaf has a future in the US market? If so, how would you ensure a successful launch?


  1. Marlboro's decisions in launching Bright Leaf appear to be the right ones, given the constraints of the UK market. Without the capacity to use traditional media advertising, packaging innovations are a quality way to create differentiation from competitors.

    I do not believe that existing variation of Bright Leaf would be a successful brand in the United States. I also do not believe that Marlboro has any intentions of taking Bright Leaf beyond the UK market. The product was designed to appeal to the palettes of British adult smokers. It is unclear whether any other markets have smokers with similar desires to those of UK smokers. Global brands will often make local product alterations in order to capture market share in a particular market.

    For example, McDonald's serves Kimchi Burgers in South Korea and wine with their meals in France. These product alterations did not detract from the core mission of McDonald's. However, I do not expect to see Kimchi Burgers and wine at United States McDonald's locations anytime soon.

  2. I agree with David. I don't think Marlboro would be successful just launching the Bright Leaf brand in the US without first undertaking some research. The company would not only need to understand if the product itself meets US consumer needs, but also how the brand might be perceived once consumers understand that it was launched in the UK first. At the very least a US launch would require some tweaking to both packaging and product, and possibly positioning.

  3. Anonymous9/21/2009

    Interesting that marlboro have chosen to launch a new product design, given that next month the goverment will be voting on further tobacco control measures. In addition to ending point of sale displays and banning cigarettes from vending machines there have been talk of introducing plain packets for all tobacco products. That surely must be a marketing nightmare as all cigarettes become a "no frills" brand.

  4. Anonymous9/27/2009

    I'm from the UK and I bought some of these in a bar as part of some Market research last night. Will be buying them from now on, nicest cigarette I've ever smoked!

  5. I'm a fairly discerning smoker, and I regularly try other brands, but usually stick to marlboro reds. I'm particularly interested in novel packaging ideas, like soft packs and the poke packs that BnH silver and Richmond have had over the past year.
    I have to say Philip Morris have really made a good move with this one, they're cheaper than Reds, about the same price as Lambert and Butler, and nicer than both of these brands. They also contain more nicotine and less carbon monoxide. So you definitely get more bang for your buck.

    A good smoke.

  6. This is a gereat packaging idea of a cigarette and the tobacco packaging. This includes diversified new products and new trends with all the creative and innovative ideas as well.

  7. Anonymous6/26/2010

    I tried these cigarettes when they first came out and have been smoking them since. I always tending to stick to Marlboro's since I started smoking them in America but found the American ones were slightly stronger so these were just what I needed. I would love them to be available in America as I will be stuck smoking Reds or Tobacco for my whole holiday lol.

  8. MAC 1 UK6/30/2010

    after smoking a regular bright leaf a few months ago ive been sucking them ever since..then tried a platinum bright leaf the other day and i must say they are just right... i advise all who seek a marlboro light taste at a cheaper price to try a pack... just hope the price dosent jump up some point in the future..

  9. Bought my first pack today as I cannot stomach paying nearly £7 for a 20 pack of marlboro lights, I have to say I was surprised, these taste great and dont have a strong smell.
    Nice one Phillip Morris.

  10. Anonymous9/09/2011

    I am originally from the US and have been visiting the UK for the past 6 weeks. I smoke Marlboro blend 27 when I am in the states and the bright leaf is the closest I can find to the 27s over here. Taste great but I doubt they will make their way over to the US.

  11. Anonymous8/16/2012

    I agree that these are a fantastic smokes. My preference has always been lucky strike, as they taste the best. However, as these are so uncommon to find, Marlboro Bright Leaf are the closest you can get. Strong enough for those who don't like weaklings like silk cut. High enough quality for those who don't like the cheap fag taste. Cheap enough (as far as fags go) to buy.

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