As a trade marketer what attracted you to work for IQOS? What does this vision of a ‘smoke-free future’ mean to you?
Our vision is crystal clear and incredibly exciting. We want to eradicate cigarettes and, for that to happen, smokers need to be aware of the different scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives, that are a much better choice for them than continued smoking. Vaping is already popular in the UK, however its progress in helping smokers to switch for good is slowing. Between a third and half of all vapers are still dual using with combustible tobacco products and, whilst 83% of current adult smokers in the UK have tried vaping, less than a quarter have stuck with it1.
Our IQOS brand, and the pioneering range of heated tobacco products that sits within it, are the result of more than a decade of research and $10.5 billion2 worth of investment into developing, scientifically substantiating, and commercialising our most sophisticated heated tobacco technology.
Technology and innovation can help to accelerate the move away from cigarettes and catapult us towards a smoke-free future much faster. As with any new technology, awareness and education are crucial. Smokers need information to make informed choices, and my goal is to do exactly that – inform and educate adult smokers who don’t quit – so we achieve a smoke-free future, faster.
Can you tell us a little of the history of your brand?
IQOS has consistently delivered ground-breaking technology in the heated tobacco category. The combination of this innovation, with our focus on consumers, is what powers the brand. Ultimately with the vision to continue to change the lives of smokers across the UK and around the world.
The IQOS journey started back in 2008, when PMI became laser-focused in its vision of a smoke-free future. With the vision established, we began its journey towards smoke-free future with IQOS in 2014 in Japan and Italy with one device and two consumables.
Since then, we have been evolving our portfolio and, powered by innovation, have created products that provide an excellent consumer experience and help adult smokers to leave cigarettes behind. The growth we’ve seen as a brand has been astronomical – today our smoke-free products are available in 80 markets, and we estimate there were 27.2M IQOS global users3 as of 30 June 2023 which is phenomenal progress from when we started on this journey towards a smoke-free future.
Tell us about the launch of IQOS ILUMA. How does the product improve on current IQOS?
The UK launch of IQOS ILUMA was incredible to be a part of – bringing ILUMA to the UK market is one of the highlights of my time at PML, and the response in its initial few weeks has been staggering. It’s clearly shown not only ILUMA’s quality, but also all the hard work put into making a splash with the launch.
On launch day, hundreds of consumers queued around the block to be one of the first to purchase the innovative new device at our IQOS store at the very moment it hit the UK market. This overwhelmingly positive response is a testament to what ILUMA is set to bring.
As a product, ILUMA is phenomenal. When we describe it as the ‘next level’, that’s because it truly is; the blade-less innovation at its core delivers an impeccable product experience, providing the user with an enhanced draw and a real tobacco taste. It’s also effortless, as there’s no need to clean the device, and it emits on average 95% lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes4.
There are three devices in the IQOS ILUMA range: ILUMA PRIME, IQOS ILUMA and ILUMA ONE, each device featuring our brand-new bladeless induction technology, which heats the tobacco within the stick instead of burning it.
With no blade, there’s no tobacco residue left behind or inside the holder, meaning less smell and absolutely no need to clean the device, something which we were keen to improve on following consumer feedback on the previous generation.
How has the Next Generation Product category been performing over the last year?
The category is performing incredibly well overall. Within it, heated tobacco – in which IQOS is the leading brand – is seeing huge momentum in the UK, growing a staggering +400% in the last three years5. We are seeing increased consumer demand for smoke-free alternatives, and it’s important that smokers seeking alternatives are given not only choice but also information about their options within the retail environment. With IQOS, we’re meeting this demand by enabling convenience stores to offer the UK’s number one heated-tobacco product6.
IQOS ILUMA meets the needs of legal-age smokers seeking alternatives who have decided to not quit nicotine and tobacco altogether but want to maintain a real tobacco experience, and is a better choice than continued smoking, and with a significant cost benefit – by switching away from cigarettes in favour of IQOS ILUMA, a smoker could save up to £3,000 a year7.
I would encourage convenience retailers to act fast and start benefitting from stocking and selling IQOS ILUMA and TEREA tobacco sticks as soon as possible. We can support them with not only next-level products, but also talking points and range of recommendations to ensure they maximise the opportunity presented by this growth in performance.
And how has your brand been performing? Is the IQOS brand in growth?
IQOS has been performing very strongly. It took us only 5 years to reach 5 billion dollars revenue, and in less than a decade we had created a 10 billion net revenue brand8. You can imagine the potential of our proposition.
Even before we launched ILUMA, IQOS was still outperforming competitors as the UK’s clear number one in the heated tobacco category, with a 99% share of market9, which is a testament to our truly excellent consumer experience. This experience is powered by three pillars – the satisfaction IQOS provides, our high brand engagement, and its effectiveness in helping legal age smokers transition away from cigarettes.
The loyalty of IQOS users isn’t a coincidence – it’s the result of significant investment into building the brand and communicating about our products responsibly. We’re in touch with the needs and requirements of consumers as we help them move towards a smoke-free future and have so far made great progress on this as we look to eradicate cigarettes completely – IQOS has a conversion rate of over 72%10, showing a superior IQOS product experience.
In every market where ILUMA has launched, it’s turbo-charged the brand’s growth11, and, just a few days into the UK launch in September, initial results surpassed even our high expectations.
What’s the difference between IQOS ILUMA, IQOS ILUMA PRIME and IQOS ILUMA ONE?
The three products in the ILUMA range each meet a different need for consumers at different price points but are all centred around the core principle of providing an excellent heated tobacco experience through innovative bladeless technology.
IQOS ILUMA ONE is our hero product for the UK convenience sector. It’s an affordable, all-in-one heated tobacco solution, with its convenient design and innovative technology offering up to 20 consecutive uses with a single charge.
With IQOS ILUMA, we’ve taken the ergonomic, iconic design of IQOS and upgraded it to the next level. With bladeless technology at its core, it offers a simple and clean heated tobacco experience, while also providing rapid charge capabilities and all the existing benefits of IQOS.
Finally, IQOS ILUMA PRIME is our premium product in the ILUMA range. Only available at IQOS stores and online, it’s advanced inside and out and is our most enhanced device to date, with an all-aluminium body, refined design, and, of course, innovative bladeless technology, it combines a seamless, clean heated tobacco experience with a premium look and feel.
What is unique about the new TEREA tobacco sticks?
The all-new IQOS ILUMA with TEREA re-invents the rules of heating tobacco, thanks to breakthrough technology. TEREA sticks are specifically designed for use with bladeless IQOS ILUMA products and are key to offering improved draw and improved taste and overall offering a superior IQOS experience.
There are nine different variants to choose from, and they’re available in a wide range of real tobacco blends. Whether you prefer classic, menthol or more aromatic tobacco variants, TEREA sticks have you covered12.
Do you personally spend time working with retailers?
Absolutely! While I spend most of my time thinking about how we can best add value for consumers, doing so without consulting our retail partners would be pointless. They’re one of our most valuable assets, and it’s vital that we understand what’s happening, and the conversations that are being had by retailers and consumers at the point of purchase, so the on-the-ground from retailers is key in informing our thinking.
Because of this, I spend a lot of time out in the trade with our field force, speaking to retailers, engaging with them, and listening to what they have to say – their feedback, their requirements – every insight we gain is hugely important for us as it helps us provide better support.
Independent retailers are so important to us. Stores are also crucial to their communities, and the convenience sector is thriving. They are our valued partners driving the growth of IQOS and helping adult smokers to switch away from cigarettes as we push towards a smoke-free future.
I’m a firm believer that their success really is our success – we’ve got grand ambitions, but we can only thrive when our retail partners do.
Retailers looking to join the ‘next level’ should contact the Heatwave Open Support team on 0333 320 0777 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.