16 HA NDBOO
What trends are impacting the
overall tobacco category?
Dave Savoca: The industry has seen
steady growth in smokeless tobacco and
cigar sales over the past several years,
while growth of e-cigarette and vape products slowed considerably in the last year
and a half. Combustible cigarettes have
rebounded from traditional three to four
percent volume declines to around two
percent. It seems with e-cigarettes, it is not
just about the nicotine delivery, it is also
about the satisfaction of the experience.
That has been missing in some regard. But
as the category matures, I predict manufacturers will continue with experiential
advancements to grow sales.
How are consumer preferences
and buying habits changing?
Based on sales, consumers seem to be telling us that they prefer the forms associated
with the traditional tobacco categories
versus some of the newer delivery vehicles.
This is evident in the rather large sales
fluctuations associated with the e-ciga-rette/vaping category. That said, there is
still a sizable percentage of adult tobacco
consumers who are seeking tobacco-free
alternatives. There is no doubt that there
is a place for harm-reduction products in
the marketplace. Tobacco is like any other
category—diversity and innovation are
driving category expansion. That diversity
includes tobacco alternatives.
What missteps are retailers
making when it comes to
merchandising the category?
I would not necessarily label this a mis-
step, but sometimes the major manufac-
turers are allowed to dominate the visual
landscape on shelf. This goes against
everything taught in grocery marketing.
Most tobacco buyers are pretty savvy and
we feel retailers are better served in con-
sidering assortment strategies that are
designed to reach a broader group of adult
Furthermore, retailers should look to
merchandising solutions that help shop-
pers better see the assortment in the store.
Tobacco consumers, across categories,
shop at retailers that carry their brands,
make it easy for them to shop, offer value
and something different.
How does Smokey Mountain chew
work with retailers to build sales
and interest in the category?
We know that there is a demand for
Smokey Mountain products, so one way
we partner with retailers is to help them
promote our brand at the store level. It
gets down to working closely with retailers
and making sure that we have the correct
flavor assortment, price and promotion.
Since Smokey Mountain’s sales are incre-
mental to the category, we help retailers
satisfy the needs of former MST shoppers
and earn a very healthy margin on every
can sold. And because Smokey Mountain
is the tobacco-free leader, we also promote
our brand through an array of marketing
programs including NFL programming,
NASCAR sponsorships, rodeo sponsor-
ships, hunting and fishing shows and
spokesperson campaigns in traditional
and social media outlets.
What is new from Smokey
Mountain this year?
Smokey Mountain launched a new flavor this year—Smokey Mountain Citrus.
Capitalizing on our victory at Daytona,
the new Citrus flavor was featured on
the Smokey Mountain Chevrolet driven
by Johnny Sauter in the NASCAR Truck
Series. To date, sales of Smokey Mountain
Citrus have exceeded our expectations at
both the trade and consumer levels.
Additionally, we launched a product called
Airio at the NACS show this year. Airio is
an external cigarette filter that reduces tar
and other chemicals. It is an extension of
our company’s philosophy of providing
adult tobacco consumers with products
that assist them in their personal harm
reduction strategies. n
SMokey Mountain cHeW
Dave Savoca, president of SMokey Mountain cHe W, says diversity and
innovation are driving expansion in the smokeless tobacco category.