In a recent study in The BMJ’s Tobacco Control, tobacco researchers in the Georgia State University School of Public Health discuss the debut of Philip Morris International’s heated tobacco device, IQOS, in Atlanta, Georgia. IQOS consists of a charger and a holder, into which tobacco sticks, called ‘HeatSticks’ in the U.S., are inserted. The blade in the holder heats tobacco in a HeatStick, producing an aerosol.
As of December 2019, two shopping mall-based IQOS flagship stores, seven mobile stores, and six pop-up stores (‘IQOS Corners’) were open in and around the city of Atlanta. Prior to the U.S. launch, IQOS was available in 43 countries.
When describing the IQOS store experience, the researchers indicate that each of the locations feature employees who can provide personal guided trials of the products. To get into the IQOS flagship stores or mobile locations, shoppers need to have their driver’s license scanned by an employee at the door. Shoppers who state they are not cigarette smokers are permitted into the store but are not allowed to sample HeatSticks or to purchase IQOS devices or HeatSticks. The researchers describe that the modern design of the store looks more like a place to buy high-tech devices, consistent with IQOS stores in other countries.
The researchers argue that IQOS marketing and branding in the USA is mirroring techniques that have been used successfully in other countries, as IQOS store and website designs and communications from the employees emphasize the ‘clean’ and ‘high-tech’ aspects of IQOS, compared with cigarettes.
Read the study.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on March 13