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Fall, 2007

S.A.L.E. Brand Cigarettes
By Evan D. Dashevsky
The German Tobacco Group looks to launch their new “Golden California Blend” S.A.L.E. cigarettes, with a combination of corporate insurrection, salesmanship, and … vitamin E?

The annual Inter-tabac 2007 exhibition in Dortmund, Germany once again proved why it’s an important fixture on the calendar for any company associated with the European tobacco retail industry [alongside EuroTab 2008 in Warsaw, this May]. The show is centered on the German market, but draws visitors from around the globe to make contacts and trade in the newest products and goods. While many company’s tried to draw in customers and contacts with everything from hired beauties, open bars, a caricaturist, and even a live mariachi band, sometimes - without the aid of a huge corporate marketing wallet - you have to depend on good old salesmanship. The year-old German Tobacco Group (GTG), represented by their charismatic Chairman Thomas Schuman, used Inter-tabac as a platform to push their new S.A.L.E. “Golden California Blend” cigarettes, which was recently introduced for sale in Germany (and soon Poland and Austria).

While certainly new, the Frankfurt-based GTG is poising S.A.L.E as an upstart against the giants of the market. “Marlboro is the brand of the old economy, we’re the brand of the new economy, the cowboy is kind of outdated. We are about the urban contemporary citizen or smoker. Marlboro stands more for the red desert, we’re the gold coast.” waxes Schumann, “S.A.L.E. stands for openness and equality, whereas Marlboro stands for a more chauvinistic approach.”

S.A.L.E’s main brand (in both regular and light) will compete in the “International Value Brand” market (the “L” and “E” of the brand’s name stand for “Less Expensive”). However, the company will, in fact, get the chance to go head-to-head in competition with the Marlboro man when their new premium-priced vitamin-E enhanced cigarettes (also under the S.A.L.E. brand) hit the market before the end of the year. Schumann went on to explain a little about the new product: “Natural Vitamin E is added in the dry form - in a granulated form - into the tobacco, in the primary process before it goes to the cigarette machine…it’s probably 350 micrograms in each cigarette. The first vitamin-enhanced cigarettes went on sale in the US [under the original patent-owner’s brand, E-cigarettes]. It was received very well from the retailers, as well as from the consumers. It had the highest sell-through of any cigarette introduction in the past few years. We now have the licensing deal for Europe and are using the same patent technology and enhancing our own brand S.A.L.E. with the vitamin E process.”

While there hasn’t been any scientific research to back up the health-benefits of a vitamin E-enhanced smoke, the original patent-owner claims it adds more flavor, has less irritations, protects the skin against aging, is less offending to non-smokers, and has a better taste.

While even Schumann admits that a vitamin-enhanced cigarette seems like “a bit of a dichotomy,” it is also a logical next step for the consumer market. “ For years, other fast-moving consumer goods have been enhanced with vitamin E - shampoos, body care products, the newest was vitamin-enhanced water (the recently Coca-Cola purchased Vitaminwater brand). This is a real trend. We think that we can be the first to make smokers make a wiser choice in cigarettes.”

Tobacco Products International - Fall, 2007
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