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Kent cigarette brand marketing in the Republic of Korea: the role of a pioneering image, flavour capsules and leader price promotions
  1. Timothy Dewhirst1,
  2. Wonkyong Beth Lee2
  1. 1 Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 DAN Department of Management and Organizational Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Timothy Dewhirst, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; dewhirst{at}

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Kent is a cigarette brand that was first introduced in 1952, being named after Herbert A Kent, who was president of the cigarette’s producer, the Lorillard Tobacco Company.1–3 Currently, Kent is produced by British American Tobacco (BAT) internationally (ie, for all markets beyond the USA), and the cigarette brand is regarded as one of BAT’s five major ‘Global Drive Brands’ (along with Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Rothmans).4 In 2010, Guy Meldrum, BAT Korea’s marketing executive director, stated that ‘Kent is the second-largest premium brand globally—outside of the U.S. and China’.5 According to BAT, Kent is a pioneering brand and ‘symbolises progress through technology in the cigarette category and stands out as the most innovative and forward-looking brand in the industry’.6

South Korea is identified as a key market for BAT in the Asia-Pacific region as well as a market that is fundamental to the company’s global growth strategy.4 7 Coinciding with Kim Eui-soung being named the chief executive officer of BAT Korea, Kent was relaunched in South Korea during July 2019 (the brand had been discontinued in 2016). Mr Kim, who is the first non-foreigner to assume this title, previously held trade marketing positions at BAT Korea and he is best known for overseeing the launch of Kent Convertibles during 2010.8–10 Kent Convertibles featured a mentholated capsule that could be crushed and activated by consumers, with the product innovation strategically considered to reinforce the brand’s pioneering image (figure 1).10 While flavour capsule cigarettes were first launched in Japan during 2007, Kent Convertibles represented the earliest capsule cigarette to be offered in South Korea.11 Marketing communication for the brand, including packaging, features the IEC 5009 power button symbol (ie, the power symbol often seen to turn devices, such as laptops, …

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  • Contributors TD and WBL significantly contributed to the writing and analysis of the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests TD is an Associate Editor of Tobacco Control with respect to Product Marketing and Promotion. He has also served as an expert witness in tobacco litigation for plaintiff counsel in class action lawsuits as well as for governments whose policies regarding the marketing and promotion of tobacco products were challenged on constitutional grounds.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.