Tobacco giant Reynolds just rolled out berry and cream nicotine lozenges as it faces new pressure from Juul for smokeless products

Courtesy Reynolds/RevelTobacco giant Reynolds rolled out nicotine lozenges called Revel on Wednesday.
  • On Wednesday, tobacco giant Reynolds rolled out nicotine lozenges called Revel.
  • Sold in four flavours, the lozenges are the first new product the company has launched on a wide commercial scale since the Vuse e-cigarette in 2013.
  • Revel lozenges are meant to adapt to smokers’ evolving preferences for consuming nicotine, Reynolds’ vice president of consumer marketing told Business Insider.
  • The lozenges do not contain tobacco or tar. Still, Reynolds is not advertising them as a healthier alternative to smoking or as a way to quit.

Tobacco giant Reynolds wants to give smokers a more convenient way to use nicotine.

On Wednesday, the company rolled out nicotine lozenges that dissolve in the mouth and come in four flavours: berry, cream, and two kinds of mint. Sold under the brand Revel, the lozenges are the first new product the company has launched on a wide commercial scale since the Vuse e-cigarette in 2013.

Reynolds is the second-largest cigarette enterprise in the US and the company behind brands like Camel, Kent, and Natural American Spirit.

Its new Revel lozenges are meant to appeal exclusively to adults who already smoke. Reynolds is betting that a sizable chunk of those customers is looking for a simpler and more discrete way to use nicotine, the same addictive drug found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Reynolds’ new lozenges will be available in both hard and soft varieties. They do not contain cancer-causing tobacco or tar. Still, the company does not plan to market Revel lozenges as a healthier alternative to smoking or as a way to quit, according to Shay Mustafa, Reynolds’ senior vice president of consumer marketing.

Instead, Mustafa said the products are intended to help meet what she called the “evolving preferences” of adult smokers.

“We are not positioning this as a cessation product. It’s just a simple way for adults to enjoy nicotine in a different format,” Mustafa told Business Insider.

Avoiding youth appeal and responding to competitor pressure

Reynolds will need to tread a careful path to ensure that its lozenges don’t appeal to youth.

Standout e-cigarette company Juul has faced scrutiny in this regard. The company’s 6-month launch campaign – which anti-tobacco groups and public health researchers have called irresponsible – featured images of young models and included parties and promotional events.

Evidence suggests that young people are more easily addicted to nicotine. In teens, the drug appears to blunt emotional control as well as decision-making and impulse-regulation skills.

Flavours have also been a big part of the backlash against e-cig makers like Juul. Sweet varieties are believed to appeal to youth. (Juul voluntarily pulled its fruit and creme options from retail stores last fall.)

Reynolds is placing Revel lozenges in child-resistant packaging; selling them only in locations where they’re behind a counter; limiting online sales to two orders per customer at a time; and requiring online customers to verify that they are at least 21 years old through third party age-verification software. The company will also require retailers to participate in “We Card,” a program it created in 1996 to reduce underage access to tobacco products. Mustafa said Reynolds also requires anyone in Revel’s advertising materials to be 25 or older.

“Responsible marketing is core to how we want to make these products available,” Mustafa said.

The Revel launch comes at a time when Reynolds is facing increasing pressure from competitors to create alternative ways of consuming nicotine.

Sales of its Vuse e-cigs have been lacklustre in recent years due to overshadowing by e-cig maker Juul, which now occupies 80% of the e-cig market share. Starting as early as last spring, Wall Street analysts were warning investors that sales of the Juul were threatening the stability of traditional tobacco stocks like British American Tobacco, Reynolds’ parent company.

“The US tobacco market is beginning to be disrupted by Juul,” Citigroup analysts wrote in a note circulated last April, adding, “We don’t expect underlying cigarette trends to improve much in the rest of 2018.”

Revel, a continuation of a limited distribution line that Reynolds sold in 2016, could be a partial answer to that problem.

“This product is designed for smokers or people who are looking for a wider range of options as it relates to nicotine,” Mustafa said. “We want to offer them more options other than combustible products or smokeless products.”

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