Background In 2006, RJ Reynolds began test-marketing Camel Snus, a new smokeless tobacco (SLT) product. Promotion included use of a brand website, a relatively new marketing channel used by tobacco companies, which allowed visitors to learn about the product and discuss it with others on the website's message board. Our study aimed to examine early experiences with and perceptions of Camel Snus as described by board contributors and also to consider the use and benefits of the message board for both consumers and the company.
Methods We conducted a qualitative analysis, coding each message in Atlas.Ti and analysing it for emerging themes and patterns. Messages were also coded for demographic information where evident, such as tobacco use status and geographical location. Descriptive data and illustrative quotes are presented.
Results Board participants described being introduced to Camel Snus through free samples. Favourable evaluations were posted by current smokers who had never tried SLT before as well as current users of other SLT brands. Messages indicated both initiation of dual product use among smokers and product substitution. Participants used the board to advise each other on how to use the product, where to get more, suggest ways RJ Reynolds could improve the product and to encourage RJ Reynolds to release it nationally.
Discussion Camel Snus has appeal for at least some smokers and SLT users. Camel Snus' website message board may have been a doubly beneficial marketing feature in both connecting product users and providing product feedback to the company during test-marketing.
- Smokeless tobacco
- tobacco marketing
- message boards
- advertising and promotion
- qualitative study
- smokeless tobacco products
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